The Woman Saudi Arabia Tried to Shut Up: An Interview with Josephine Macintosh

Last month, I wrote about the remarkable events at the UN Human Rights Council, where Saudi Arabia attempted to shout down Josephine Macintosh, a representative of my employer the Center for Inquiry, as she delivered a forceful statement condemning Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses, specifically the persecution and imprisonment of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu al-Khair (who just this week was sentenced to 15 years in prison).

The Saudi representative was desperate to quiet her, demanding that the council president “shut that woman up!”, but delegations from the U.S., Ireland, Canada, and France stood up for Josephine’s right to deliver her statement. (You can read my full writeup here.)

I finally managed to actually make contact with the hero of the whole story, Josephine herself, who’s been busy traveling and without regular Internet access. I took the opportunity to ask her about the whole episode and to learn a little about what motivates her, too. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation. I’ve emphasized some key portions.

[Read more...]

What Made Saudi Arabia Panic at the UN Human Rights Council?

[Note: This is an expansion on a previous post, meant to give full context and background to the story for those just learning about this issue.]

The human rights abuses of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not secrets. A monarchy under Islamic Law, with only rare and arbitrary local elections, and almost total subjugation of women, the West looks on with disapproval, but impotence. They are, infamously, a U.S. “ally,” being a huge source of oil and perceived as a bulwark against Islamic terrorism in an unstable region of the world. We see the oppression, the medieval treatment of half its population, and the astounding opulence of its aristocracy, and we shrug. It’s their culture; what can we do?

[Read more...]

President Obama, at Prayer Breakfast, Defends Rights of Those with ‘No Faith At All’

Let us take it as a given that the President of the United States’ participation in the National Prayer Breakfast his highly problematic to say the least. When we make a tradition of the elected chief executive publicly kissing the ring of sectarian religion, it turns it into a quasi-official event, flying in the face of basic secularism and the Constitution. It’s a bad thing.

All that said (and said with fervency), via RNS’s Brian Pellot, we learn that at said breakfast, President Obama had a positive message that we secularists wholeheartedly embrace: the need for people of all religions and of no religion to believe and express themselves as they will, without threat of retaliation, discrimination, or criminalization.

And, importantly, it was said before a conservative religious audience. The president said:

[Read more...]

Alber Saber Leaves Egypt, Laments its Political Situation

Alber Saber, the Egyptian atheist blogger and activist who was recently convicted of blasphemy and released on bail, has left the country, for his own safety as well as that of his family. Where he’s gone has not been revealed (and that’s a good thing). [Read more...]

Alber Saber Talks to the Press: ‘They Picked a Good Moment to Target Me’

Egyptian atheist blogger and activist Alber Saber, recently convicted of blasphemy and now out on bail awaiting an appeal, gave an interview to Maggie Fick of the Associated Press. [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X