The Continuing Battle Over Blasphemy Laws

I'm surprised to still be writing about blasphemy laws, but it seems the idea just won't die. At the United Nations this week, the elected leaders of newly democratic Egypt and Yemen called for restrictions on free speech, in addition to similar demands from Turkey and other Islamic-majority nations. Russia, too, is advocating for laws that would criminalize criticism of religion, saying that "the feelings of the faithful must be protected by the state" (HT: IHEU). Unfortunately this doesn't … [Read more...]

The Sphere of Permitted Ideas

This week, there's been a flurry of stories about Muslim groups trying to suppress criticism of Islam, both by law and by force. It's worth summarizing them briefly to show how these aren't isolated incidents, but parts of a larger and more disturbing trend. First up: I mentioned earlier the story of a campus secular group in London that came under pressure from Muslim students and the university union to remove this image from the webcomic Jesus and Mo from their Facebook page. (Muslims claim … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 14

• Here's the top story for this week: After Jessica Ahlquist's court victory over illegal state-sponsored prayer in her high school, she's been receiving a torrent of vicious hate mail and threats of violence, presumably from good and pious Christians who support prayer. Here are some of the most appalling; some of the threats were sufficiently serious that police are investigating them. This isn't a surprise, unfortunately - it almost always happens to atheists who speak up. As disgusting … [Read more...]

Why Atheists Should Fight Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Last month, the TLC television channel premiered All-American Muslim, a reality show which follows several, from what I can see, fairly normal American families who happen to be Muslims. On any other planet this shouldn't have been in any way controversial - but the Florida Family Association, a Christian-right hate group, has been pressuring advertisers to drop their support on the astounding basis that the stars of the show are too normal:The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim … [Read more...]

Religion Imprisons Women

One hypothesis for the origin of religion is that it's a kind of "costly signaling" - a way for people to prove their loyalty to the group by participating in complex rituals and extravagant shows of devotion. But there's an underappreciated danger to this: when everyone in a community already follows a strict interpretation of faith, religious belief will have a tendency to spiral out of control into extremism, as group members go to greater and greater lengths to express their piety. And when … [Read more...]

Is the Arab Spring Hurting Arab Women?

While protests continue to rage in Syria and a new government takes shape in Libya, the origin of the Arab Spring has attained a huge milestone: Tunisia successfully held its first election last week, and aside from scattered protests and violence, the contest appears to have been largely peaceful, free and fair - not to mention high-turnout (over 70% of eligible voters cast ballots). Three cheers for Tunisia! But Western secularists may have reason not to be entirely sanguine about the … [Read more...]

The Real Meaning of Islamophobia

I don't usually say these sorts of things about Republicans, but good for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is defending his pick of a Muslim for a state judgeship, saying critics of a lawyer who represented suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are "ignorant" and "crazies"...."This Shariah law business is crap," said Christie, 48. "It's just crazy and I'm tired of dealing with the crazies."Gov. Christie appointed Sohail Mohammed, who … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Granada

To see the pictures, click on the link to continue: … [Read more...]

Islamic Sexism and the Sense of Entitlement

Does this remind anyone of anything?On Jan. 16, Warda was nearly raped. It happened in early afternoon, in the heart of central Cairo, in an elevator.A man with short black hair entered, Warda recalled. "We didn't really look at each other; I was reading some messages on my phone," she said. The elevator, big enough for four people, stopped suddenly, and the lights went out. The electricity was cut, nothing unusual in some neighborhoods of Cairo. They called for the bawab - the caretaker - … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Córdoba

To see the pictures, follow the link to continue: … [Read more...]


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