A Groundhog Day Replay? Cartoon Protests Break Out In String of Muslim Countries; Some End In Violence

Looks like it’s 2006 all over again.

Via France24 and confirmed through other online sources (1, 2, 3, 4), here’s a roundup.

Niger:

At least five people were killed on Saturday during a second day of unrest in Niger, as French citizens were warned to stay indoors amid anger in several Muslim countries over a Prophet Mohammed cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo this week.

Police fired teargas at crowds of stone-throwing youths, who set fire to churches and looted shops in Niger’s capital Niamey. … President [Mahamadou Issoufou] has condemned the deaths of five people in Niamey today, four of whom died in burned churches and one woman who died in a bar.

The unrest came a day after at least four people were killed and 45 others were injured in protests in Niger’s second largest city Zinder, with demonstrators ransacking three churches and torching the French cultural centre.

“We’ve never seen that in living memory in Zinder,” a local administration official said.



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Dan Fincke Unpacks 16 of the Worst Charlie Hebdo Memes

Over at Camels With Hammers, Dan Fincke is in no mood to let the anti-Hebdo brigade have its way with the facts. So in a Herculean mega-post, he applies severe scrutiny to various ideas that he finds, in sum total, appalling.

He’s even done us the service of linking to each debatable statement, so you can peruse the list and jump right to Fincke’s counterargument.

1. “Why are people insisting we show the images? We can stand up for free speech without approving of or republishing images we disagree with.”

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Survey: The Netherlands Now Has More Atheists Than Believers, But 60 Percent of Respondents Are Unsure

Nowhere in the Western world does secularization race ahead as quickly as it does in the country where I was born and raised.

I hope it’s contagious.

For the first time the Netherlands has more atheists than believers, according to a recent survey conducted by Ipsos. Slightly more than 25 percent of the people are atheists while 17 percent believes in the existence of God.

The majority, 60 percent, is between believing and disbelieving in God. … The majority categorize themselves as either agnostics or ‘something-ists’. Agnostics say they can not know if there is a higher power and somethingists, or ietsists, believe that there must be a some sort of higher power beyond material.



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How North Korea Brainwashes Children To Conform to “Kimism”

When conservative believers jeer and jab at atheism, they frequently point to North Korea as an example of what a perfect atheist state looks like.

Next time that happens, just send them a link to this article from yesterday’s Washington Post.

Author Anna Fifield explains how the country’s schoolchildren are force-fed the idea that their leaders are divine beings. “Kimism” is a religion in all but name.

The personality cult that permeates every aspect of North Korean life has become an ideology in itself. It revolves around Kim Il Sung, portrayed as an anti-Japanese revolutionary hero and founding father who remains North Korea’s “eternal president” more than two decades after his death.

His son, Kim Jong Il, was, according to North Korean myth, born on a sacred mountain, under a bright star at night. (In reality, he was born in Siberia.) Since Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011, Kim Jong Un has taken over the family business.

If you live in North Korea, you cannot escape the propaganda barrage.

Every home, office, classroom and even train car features portraits of the first two leaders, and the pictures must be cleaned with a special cloth every day.



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Muslim Author Maajid Nawaz’ Journey From Recruiter of Extremists to Impassioned Peacemaker

A year ago, ex-radical Muslim Maajid Nawaz found himself in the crosshairs of some of his brethren over what is possibly the most innocuous Mohammed cartoon ever drawn — seen in this Tweet:

I wrote about the ridiculous affair here.

One reason why I bring Nawaz up again is that the anger and death threats over the cartoon and the tweet tell us something about the discussion that ensued after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. What happened to Nawaz should cause us to question the idea that the French cartoons were so unpardonably “racist” and “hateful” that they drove people like the Kouachi brothers to the breaking point. Clearly, for Muslim extremists to react to a cartoon with fatwas and death threats, all it takes is something as perfectly bland and unobjectionable as the picture above.

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