islam

Florida Minister Still Plans Koran Burning

Florida Minister Still Plans Koran Burning

(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — The leader of a small Florida church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy said he was still praying about whether go through with his plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, which the White House, religious leaders and others are pressuring him to call off.

The Rev. Terry Jones said he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip but still did not back off his plan Tuesday to burn the book Muslims consider the word of God and insist be treated with the utmost respect. The 58-year-old minister said the death threats started not long after he proclaimed in July that he would stage “International Burn-a-Koran Day.” (See pictures of Muslims in America.)

Supporters, though, have been mailing copies of the holy text to his church of about 50 followers to be incinerated in a bonfire on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Gen. David Petraeus took the rare step of a military leader taking a position on a domestic matter when he warned in an e-mail to The Associated Press that “images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.” (See pictures of Muslims observing Iftar.)

Jones responded that he is also concerned but is “wondering, ‘When do we stop?'” He refused to cancel the protest at his Dove World Outreach Center but said he was still praying about it.

“How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?” Jones told the AP. “Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior.”

Jones gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his church declaring “Islam is of the Devil.” But his Koran-burning idea attracted wider attention. It drew rebukes from Muslim nations and at home as an emotional debate was taking shape over the proposed Islamic center near the ground zero site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.

His actions most likely would be protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in several landmark rulings that speech deemed offensive to many people, even the majority of people, cannot be suppressed by the government unless it is clearly directed to intimidate someone or amounts to an incitement to violence, legal experts said. The fire department has denied Jones a required burn permit, but he said lawyers have told him he has the right to burn the Korans, with or without the city’s permission.

Legal or not, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting Tuesday with religious leaders to discuss recent attacks on Muslims and mosques around the U.S. called the planned burning idiotic and dangerous, according to a Justice Department official. The official requested anonymity because the meeting was private.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton added her disapproval at a dinner in observance of Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths,” Clinton said.

Local religious leaders in this progressive Florida city of 125,000 anchored by the sprawling University of Florida campus also criticized the lanky preacher with the bushy white mustache. At least two dozen Christian churches, Jewish temples and Muslim organizations in the city have mobilized to plan inclusive events — some will read from the Koran at their own weekend services. A student group is organizing a protest across the street from the church on Saturday.

Gainesville’s new mayor, Craig Lowe, who during his campaign became the target of a Jones-led protest because he is openly gay, has declared Sept. 11 Interfaith Solidarity Day in the city.

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed the concerns raised by Petraeus. “Any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration,” Gibbs told reporters.

The Koran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.

Muslims consider the Koran along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad to be sacred. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect Koran is deeply offensive.

Jones’ Dove Outreach Center is independent of any denomination. It follows the Pentecostal tradition, which teaches that the Holy Spirit can manifest itself in the modern day. Pentecostals often view themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare against satanic forces. The world’s leading Sunni Muslim institution of learning, Al-Azhar University in Egypt, accused the church of stirring up hate and discrimination, and called on other American churches speak out against it.

Last month, Indonesian Muslims demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, threatening violence if Jones goes through with it.

Jones dismisses the response of the other churches as “cowardly.” He said even if they think burning Korans is extreme, Christian ministers should be standing with him in denouncing the principles of Islam.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2016699,00.html#ixzz0z067l7r8

Obama Is Wrong – Sam Harris

Obama Is Wrong – Sam Harris

After weeks of dodging the issue, at a White House Ramadan dinner Friday night, President Obama came out in support of Park51, the planned Muslim community center and mosque two blocks away from the World Trade Center site.

While the project may represent religious tolerance, it also highlights the failure of moderate Muslims to condemn extremists and try to seriously reform Islam, says author Sam Harris—something the president has failed to acknowledge.

Should a 15-story mosque and Islamic cultural center be built two blocks from the site of the worst jihadist atrocity in living memory? Put this way, the question nearly answers itself. This is not to say, however, that I think we should prevent our fellow citizens from building “the ground zero mosque.” There is probably no legal basis to do so in any case—nor should there be. But the margin between what is legal and what is desirable, or even decent, leaves room for many projects that well-intentioned people might still find offensive. If you can raise the requisite $100 million, you might also build a shrine to Satan on this spot, complete with the names of all the non-believing victims of 9/11 destined to suffer for eternity in Hell. You could also build an Institute of “9/11 Truth,” catering to the credulity, masochism, and paranoia of the 16 percent of Americans who imagine that the World Trade Center was intentionally demolished by agents of the U.S. government. Incidentally, any shrine to conspiracy thinking should probably also contain a mosque, along with a list of the 4,000 Jews who suspiciously declined to practice their usury in the Twin Towers on the day of the attack.

The New York Times has declared that the proposed mosque will be nothing less than “a monument to tolerance.” It goes without saying that tolerance is a value to which we should all be deeply committed. Nor can we ignore the fact that many who oppose the construction of this mosque embody all that is terrifyingly askew in conservative America—“birthers,” those sincerely awaiting the Rapture, opportunistic Republican politicians, and utter lunatics who yearn to see Sarah Palin become the next president of the United States (note that Palin herself probably falls into several of these categories). These people are wrong about almost everything under the sun. The problem, however, is that they are not quite wrong about Islam.

In his speech supporting the mosque, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “We would betray our values—and play into our enemies’ hands—if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.” This statement has the virtue of being almost true. But it is also true that honest, freedom-loving Muslims should be the first to view their fellow Muslims somewhat differently. At this point in human history, Islam simply is different from other faiths. The challenge we all face, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is to find the most benign and practical ways of mitigating these differences and of changing this religion for the better.

[continues]

British girls undergo horror of genital mutilation despite tough laws

British girls undergo horror of genital mutilation despite tough laws

Female circumcision will be inflicted on up to 2,000 British schoolgirls during the summer holidays – leaving brutal physical and emotional scars. Yet there have been no prosecutions against the practice

Like any 12-year-old, Jamelia was excited at the prospect of a plane journey and a long summer holiday in the sun. An avid reader, she had filled her suitcases with books and was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when her mother came for her. “She said, ‘You know it’s going to be today?’ I didn’t know exactly what it would entail but I knew something was going to be cut. I was made to believe it was genuinely part of our religion.”

She went on: “I came to the living room and there were loads of women. I later found out it was to hold me down, they bring lots of women to hold the girl down. I thought I was going to be brave so I didn’t really need that. I just lay down and I remember looking at the ceiling and staring at the fan.

“I don’t remember screaming, I remember the ridiculous amount of pain, I remember the blood everywhere, one of the maids, I actually saw her pick up the bit of flesh that they cut away ’cause she was mopping up the blood. There was blood everywhere.”

Some 500 to 2,000 British schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad, others will be “cut” or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to “cutting parties” for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise.

Then the girls will return to their schools and try to get on with their lives, scarred mentally and physically by female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that serves as a social and cultural bonding exercise and, among those who are stitched up, to ensure that chastity can be proved to a future husband.

Even girls who suffer less extreme forms of FGM are unlikely to be promiscuous. One study among Egyptian women found 50% of women who had undergone FGM “endured” rather than enjoyed sex.

Cleanliness, neatness of appearance and the increased sexual pleasure for the man are all motivations for the practice. But the desire to conform to tradition is the most powerful motive. The rite of passage, condemned by many Islamic scholars, predates both the Koran and the Bible and possibly even Judaism, appearing in the 2nd century BC.

Although unable to give consent, many girls are compliant when they have the prodecure carried out, believing they will be outcasts if they are not cut. The mothers believe they are doing the best for their daughters. Few have any idea of the lifetime of hurt it can involve or the medical implications.

Jamelia, now 20, who says her whole personality changed afterwards.”I felt a lot older. It was odd because nobody says this is a secret, keep your mouth shut but that’s the message you get loud and clear.” She stopped the sports and swimming she used to love and became “strangely disconnected with her own body”. Other girls have died, of shock or blood loss; some have picked up infections from dirty tools. Jamelia’s mother paid extra for the woman to use a clean razor. It is thought that in the UK there are one or two doctors who can be bribed by the very rich to to carry out FGM using anaesthetic and sterilised instruments.

Comfort Momoh works at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, in one of the 16 clinics up and down the country who deal with FGM and its health repercusssions. Women who have had much of their external genitalia sliced off and their vaginas stitched closed, but for a tiny hole, also come to be cut open in order to give birth.

There are four types of female circumcision identified by the World Health Organisation, ranging from partial to total removal of the external female genitalia. Some 140 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM and an estimated further two million are at risk every year. Most live in 28 African countries while others are in Yemen, Kurdistan, the US, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Canada.

The UK Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 makes it an offence to carry out FGM or to aid, abet or procure the service of another person. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, makes it against the law for FGM to be performed anywhere in the world on UK permanent residents of any age and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. To date, no prosecutions have been made under UK legislation.

“Obviously in summer we get really anxious. All activists and professionals working around FGM get anxious because this is the time that families take their children back home. This is the time when all the professionals need to be really alert,” said Momoh.

“There is no hard evidence in figures about what is happening in the UK because it’s a hush-hush thing. It’s only now that a few people are beginning to talk about it, which is good because change will only come from within and the numbers coming forward are rising. But there is a lot of family pressure. When I first started in 1997 we had two clinics in the country, now we have 16.”

One woman told the Observer how a midwife examining her had raced retching and crying from the room. She had no idea she was “abnormal” before that happened. There is a clear need for women who have suffered FGM to be able to visit health professionals who understand what has happened to them. Momoh said that for those who wanted it, some surgical reversal work could sometimes be done on women with the most severe FGM procedure, Type III. For those with other types, counselling and support is all that can offered.

“Periods are agony – you get a lot of women who are determined to have reversals while they are having their period but then when the pain has stopped they lose their nerve again,” said Leyla Hussein, 29, who has had to have years of counselling to cope with her own anger and distress at what was done to her as a child. It has helped her forgive her own mother’s complicity in the mutilation she endured, though the older woman could not understand why Hussein would not have her own child, now aged seven, cut. But Hussein has vowed that she will be the last generation of women in her family to suffer.

“It was my husband who said on our honeymoon, ‘We are not going to do this thing to any child of ours.’ I was quite shocked, I hadn’t questioned it. But I now realise a lot of men are not in favour of FGM, not when you tell them the woman is not going to enjoy herself.”

Hussein is among a slowly but steadily growing band of women who have reacted against what happened to them with courage and a determination to stamp out FGM. Hussein has run support and discussion groups for affected women and for men, and formerly worked at the African Well Women’s Centre in Leyton, east London.

“I can really relate to some of the women who are very angry, but how do you blame your mother, who loves you yet planned this for you? There is a lot of anger and resentment. Many women blame themselves and of course there are flashbacks to deal with. I had blackouts – anytime I had to have a smear test, I would pass out because lying in that position brought it back to me, but the nurse is used to me now and allows a little more time with the appointment.”

“The new generation, born and raised here in Britain, they are used to expressing their views and it will be a lot harder to shut them up. Last month was the first ever march against FGM [in Bristol where 15 to 16 mothers protested] and that is a sign of something new.”

Asha-Kin Duale is a community partnership adviser in Camden, London. She talks to schools and to families about safeguarding children. “Culture has positive and negative issues for every immigrant community. We value some traditions, and most are largely good.

“FGM is not confined to African countries. It has no basis in Christianity, it has no basis in Islam; none of Muhammad’s daughters had it done. For some parents it is enough to let them know that and they will drop it completely. Everyone needs to understand that every child, no matter what the background or creed, is protected by this law in this land.”

She said there needed to be an understanding of why FGM took place, although that was not the same as accepting that the practice had a cultural justification.

“FGM has a social function and until this is understood by social services and other bodies they will never stop it. It is a power negotiation mechanism, that women use to ensure respect from men. It prevents rape of daughters and is a social tool to allow women to regain some power in patriarchal societies. With girls living in the UK there is no need to gain the power – it has to be understood that girls can be good girls without FGM.”

For Jason Morgan, a detective constable in the Met’s FGM unit, Project Azure, the solution lies with those girls themselves: “Empowering youth, giving them the information, is the way forward. They are coming from predominantly caring and loving families, who genuinely believe this is the right thing to do. Many are under a great deal of pressure from the extended families.

“Sometimes it might be as simple as delivering the message of what the legal position is; sometimes we even give them an official letter, a document that they can show to the extended family that states quite firmly what will happen if the procedure goes ahead. The focus has to be on prevention.”

Project Azure made 38 interventions in 2008, 59 in 2009 and 25 so far this year. For Morgan those statistics are just as important as getting a conviction. “We know it happens here although we have no official statistics, but we have seen very successful partnerships and we don’t want to alienate communities through heavy-handed tactics.

“While a prosecution would send out a very clear message to practising communities, really it is very difficult and you would be relying on medical evidence, and in turn that would all hinge or whether the child consents to an examination.”

But Naana Otoo-Oyortey is not so content with the softly-softly approach: “We have anecdotal evidence that it is being done here. So someone is not doing their job: it’s an indication that the government has been failing to protect children. The commitment is hollow.”

Head of the leading anti-FGM charity Forward UK, Otoo-Oyortey said people value the FGM tradition as something which holds a community together and gives it structure. “It’s seen as a party, a cutting party because it’s a celebration – people expect it as a way of welcoming a girl. A lot of women will mention to us that there have been no prosecutions here so why do we worry about the law? At the end of the day who will know?

“And we cannot just blame the women as the men are silently supporting it by paying for it. The new government’s lack of a position on FGM is very worrying. We don’t know what they will do, but we do know that the summer holidays are here again and we will be left to pick up the pieces in a few weeks’ time.”

And for those who will be “cut” this summer, the effects will be lifelong. Miriam was six when she had her cutting party at her home in Somalia, two years before war arrived to force her family out.

When she was 12, doctors were horrified to find that what they thought was a cyst in her body was actually several years of period blood that had been blocked from leaving her body. Unable to have children, she now lives and works in England and worries about other girls. “I’d seen so many people circumcised, all my neighbours, so I knew one day it was going to happen to me. We knew what was happening,” Miriam said.

“The little girls who were born in Europe have no clue. They will be traumatised a lot more. The only thing they know is that they are going away – that’s what they say, ‘We’re going on a holiday’.

“Then her life and her head are going to be messed up. It’s amazing how many people are in mental health care because of their culture. Don’t get me wrong, I have religion and culture and I love where I’m from and I love what I stand for. But culture should not be about torture.

“Why would anyone want to go and cut up a seven- or eight-year-old child? People need to wake up — you are hurting your child, you are hurting your daughter, you’re not going to have a grandchild, so wake up.”

Muslim bus drivers refuse to let guide dogs on board

Muslim bus drivers refuse to let guide dogs on board

Blind passengers are being ordered off buses or refused taxi rides because Muslim drivers or passengers object to their ‘unclean’ guide dogs.

One pensioner, a cancer sufferer, told how had twice been confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog, and had also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal.

The problem to carry guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was raised in the House of Lords last week, prompting transport minister Norman Baker to warn that a religious objection was not a reason to eject a passenger with a well-behaved guide dog.

While drivers can use their discretion to refuse to carry non-disabled passengers with dogs, they are compelled to accept guide dogs under disability discrimination law.

Yesterday both the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the National Federation of the Blind confirmed the problem was common, and, according to the latter organisation was ‘getting worse’.

The tension stems from a strand of Islamic teaching which warns against contact with dogs because the animal’s saliva was considered to be impure, the Muslim Council of Britain said.

It urged Muslims to show tolerance and common sense over the issue.

‘We need to be flexible on this,’ a spokesman said.  ‘Muslim drivers should have no hesitation in allowing guide dogs into their bus or car.

‘If a dog does lick you, it’s not the end of the world. Just go home and wash yourself.’

George Herridge, 73, a retired hospital maintenance manager, told the Daily Mail he was ‘stunned’ to be twice asked by bus drivers to leave their vehicles because of his guide dog Andy, a black Labrador.

Mr Herridge, who lives with wife Janet, 69, in Tilehurst, Reading, said that on the first occasion two years ago, he got off at the request of a Muslim driver because some Muslim children on board were ‘screaming’ because of the dog.

He found himself in a similar scenario in May last year, when a Muslim woman and her children became ‘hysterical’. Mr Herridge this time refused the driver’s request to alight.

He complained to the bus company which launched an investigation. It later informed him the matter had been dealt with ‘internally’.

Jill Allen-King, spokesman for the NFB, said she had been repeatedly left on the kerb by Muslim taxi drivers who refused to take her dog.

One cab driver told her he would have to ‘go home now and wash myself’ when she tried to enter his car with her dog.

Mr Baker yesterday warned bus and cab companies that, while there were within their rights to ask a passenger to leave if the dog was causing a nuisance, it was ‘much more questionable to be asked to remove a dog for religious reasons’.

He added: ‘One person’s freedom is someone else’s restriction.’

In 2006, Muslim minicab driver Abdul Rasheed Majekodumni was fined £200 and ordered to pay £1,200 costs by magistrates in Marylebone, central London, after being prosecuted for failing to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act when he refused to take a blind passenger because her guide dog was ‘unclean’.

Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki puts ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed’ cartoonist Molly Norris on execution hitlist

Religion of peace, my fucking ass.

Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki puts ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed’ cartoonist Molly Norris on execution hitlist

A CHARISMATIC terror leader linked to the botched Times Square car bomb has placed the Seattle cartoonist who launched “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” on an execution hit list.

Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki – the radical who has also been cited as inspiring the Fort Hood, Tex., massacre and the plot by two New Jersey men to kill U.S. soldiers – singled out artist Molly Norris as a “prime target,” saying her “proper abode is hellfire.”

FBI officials have notified Norris and warned her they consider it a “very serious threat.”

In an English-language Al Qaeda magazine that calls itself “Inspire,” Awlaki damns Norris and eight others for “blasphemous caricatures” of the Prophet Muhammed. The other cartoonists, authors and journalists in Awlaki’s cross hairs are Swedish, Dutch and British citizens.

The 67-page terror rag is seen by terrorism experts as a bald new attempt to reach and recruit Muslim youth in the West.

“The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved,” writes Awlaki, 39, a Las Cruces, N.M.-born American citizen.

“A soul that is so debased, as to enjoy the ridicule of the Messenger of Allah, the mercy to mankind; a soul that is so ungrateful towards its lord that it defames the Prophet of the religion Allah has chosen for his creation does not deserve life, does not deserve to breathe the air.”

Awlaki’s rant first appeared late last month in “Inspire,” which was posted to the Internet by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemeni branch linked to a Christmas Day bombing attempt on a U.S.-bound jet.

Initially, only three Web pages were accessible, leading to speculation it might be fake. But yesterday, the full edition was posted on jihadist Web forums, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

David Gomez, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the “very serious threat.”

“We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda-inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target,” Gomez said.

Norris initially grabbed headlines in April when she published a satirical cartoon on her Web site that declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” as a way to mock Viacom and Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of “South Park” that showed the Prophet Muhammed dressed in a bear suit.

Soon after, the topic erupted on the Web with the start of a Facebook support group for Norris. In response, Pakistan blocked access to the social networking site as a fiery pro-and-con debate raged worldwide.

Norris eventually backed away from her cartoon and cause.

“I regret that I made my cartoon the way I made it,” she told the Seattle-based KING 5 TV.

Norris’ neighbor said yesterday he’s noticed an increased police presence on the street lined with modest Craftsman-style homes. No one answered the door at her home, where a blue baby swing hung from a tree outside.

Most of the “Inspire” entries are regurgitations of widely available jihadi propaganda, including translated speeches from Osama Bin Laden and tutorials on how to “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.” Still, experts say the goal is clear: to reach a young, impressionable audience.

“It’s like Al Qaeda’s Tiger Beat,” said one senior U.S. counterterrorism official.

Pakistan to monitor Google, others for blasphemy

Muslims need to be protected from reality; we can’t have them learning about things that might make them turn away from their bullshit religion.

Pakistan to monitor Google, others for blasphemy

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani authorities on Friday put seven major websites, including Google and YouTube, under watch for containing material deemed offensive to Muslims, officials said.

The Ministry of Information Technology is also blocking at least 17 links on Youtube and other websites for showing “blasphemous material.”

“YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, Bing, MSN, Hotmail and Google will be monitored with relation to anti-Islamic contents,” said Khurram Mehran, spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The companies that own the affected sites are Google Inc., Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon.com Inc..

But another official also made it clear the government had no intention of blocking major websites as they were important sources of education.

The move to impose monitoring was undertaken three days after a court in the eastern city of Bahawalpur ordered the government to block YouTube and eight other sites in response to a petition arguing they were showing material “against the fundamental principles of Islam.

The next hearing of the case is fixed for Monday. It is second time in a month that Pakistan has imposed such restrictions on internet.

Last month, authorities acting on a court decision blocked social network Facebook, YouTube and others sites for almost two weeks amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images of the Prophet Mohammad.

BLASPHEMY A SENSITIVE ISSUE

Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims, who constitute the overwhelming majority in Pakistan.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. Five people were killed in protests in 2006 over publication of cartoons deemed blasphemous by Muslims in Danish newspapers a year earlier.

However, Latif Khosa, adviser to the prime minister on information technology, said the government had already been monitoring websites for any material prejudicial to “security of Pakistan and Islamic injunctions.”

Khosa said the government could not block major search engines and websites as they were major sources of information and education.

“The constitution of Pakistan ensures access to knowledge, information and education to all citizens of Pakistan. These are the basic rights of the people of Pakistan and Internet is a major source of it,” Khosa told Reuters.

Courts cannot violate those rights nor can any law be put in place to do so, he said.

“Many students are calling us and saying that they could not complete their higher studies if any step is taken to block these search engines,” Khosa said.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Threatened with Prosecution, Death by Pakistan Legal Authorities

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Threatened with Prosecution, Death by Pakistan Legal Authorities

It seems that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is under investigation by Pakistani legal authorities for violation of that country’s anti-blasphemy laws surrounding the recent Draw Muhammed contest.

The penalty for violating the Pakistani anti-blasphemy law can be death.

Section 295-C of the Pakistani penal code reads: “Use of derogatory remark etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet, whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable for fine.”

The Draw Muhammed Contest was started in response, in part, to Comedy Central’s censoring of an episode of “South Park” that dealt with violent Muslim reaction over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammed in the West. A Danish newspaper and cartoonist have also been under violent threat because of a cartoon depicting Mohammed with an exploding turban.

The idea of the Draw Muhammed Contest was that it would be a response to violent, Islamic extremists to show that freedom of expression in the West applies to everyone and every subject. Muslims do not get to tell non-Muslims what to do and what to say.

It appears that Pakistani law enforcement disagrees with this sentiment. The Pakistanis actually expect Interpol to arrange for the arrest of Mark Zuckerberg and his handing over to the Pakistani authorities for trial and presumed punishment. A complaint to the UN General Assembly is also being contemplated.

The situation seems to derive in large part from cultural insensitivity on the part of Pakistanis and many other Muslims. Muslims may feel somewhat sensitive about depictions of their Prophet, especially unflattering ones. This has been known since the Salman Rushdie affair. On the other hand, Muslims need to realize that the right to express oneself, on any subject, with any point of view, is held as sacred in the West as Islam is considered in their own countries. Religion and the religious are scrutinized, criticized, and ridiculed frequently. This applies to all religions, not just Islam.

The difference is that Christians, Jews, and so on seem to be secure enough in their particular faiths that any assaults on them get relatively mild complaints in response. Not so with Muslims. It seems that many Muslims just want to kill people for disdaining Islam. This not only demonstrates a somewhat shaky religious faith, but also tends to reinforce the image of the Muslims as violent extremists.

Coddling or giving into this attitude, as Comedy Central did, is somewhat counter-productive. Self-censorship only enables violent extremists and ensures that the threats of violence will continue.

Thanks to JT Hundley for the link

Saudi ’emo’ girls busted by religious cops

Saudi ’emo’ girls busted by religious cops

Saudi Arabia’s religious police have arrested 10 “emo” women for allegedly causing a disturbance in a coffee shop, Al-Yaum newspaper has reported.

The coffee shop owner in the eastern city of Dammam called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to complain after the young women, dressed and made up in the “emo” fashion, apparently began disturbing other clients.

The religious police then called their parents to come and collect the women, and to sign pledges that the girls would not repeat their ostensibly offensive un-Islamic behaviour and dress.

According to recent reports, growing numbers of urban young Saudi women are latching on to the emo fashion popular from Japan to Europe and the Americas.

The trend is characterised by wearing skinny black jeans, tennis shoes, colourful T-shirts bearing the names of emo bands, heavy make up and sharply chopped and sometimes radically coloured hairdos.

While Saudi women normally must appear in public shrouded by all-black abayas and headscarves, some daringly open their abayas in places such as malls and coffee shops to reveal more trendy outfits underneath.