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20th January

  Je Suis Charlie...BUT...

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National Secular Society organises discussion in Parliament about the legacy of the Charlie Hebdo and its effect on free speech
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In praise of blasphemy Members and supporters of the National Secular Society gathered in Portcullis House this week to discuss the future of free speech, two years after the attack on Charlie Hebdo .

The Society was honoured to be joined by Caroline Fourest, who helped edit the Survivor's Edition of Charlie Hebdo published shortly after the massacre.

She discussed the shameful treatment of Charlie Hebdo following the massacre by some UK media outlets: after the attack, Sky News cut her off in the middle of an interview when she tried to show a cartoon of Mohammed. Those who defy Islamic blasphemy laws don't just face violence and threats, she said, but demonisation from the regressive left.

She stressed the need for secularists to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry but criticised the term Islamophobia , arguing that it conflated Muslims with Islam, and stifled discussion about the religion.

Introducing the event, Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, said:

The heartening outpouring of solidarity, the sense of indignation and outrage, the crowds shouting 'Je Suis Charlie' had offered a brief glimmer of hope.

But the solidarity didn't last, our collective outrage quickly gave way to bitter disputes, and bile against Charlie from those who blamed the victims for their own murder. The crowds went home.

The panel also featured writer and journalist Nick Cohen, Jodie Ginsberg of Index on Censorship and Martin Rowson. Nick Cohen urged those present to buy Caroline Fourest's book, In Praise of Blasphemy , after she said that, despite it being a bestseller in France, no UK publisher would touch it. He accused people of making feeble excuses for not showing genuine solidarity with Charlie Hebdo , arguing that there were very good reasons to be frightened of publishing a Mohammed cartoon, but that few would admit that was the true reason.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said that a pincer movement was attacking free speech. She pointed to Government proposals for extremism disruption orders as one example, and criticised Tony Blair and other politicians for calling for laws against offending religious feelings. She said that society lacked the ability to debate productively and that whatever you did, however innocuous you think it is, somebody will claim to be offended .  People went very quickly after the attack from saying Je Suis Charlie to, Je Suis Charlie, but... and too many claim to defend free speech but in practice out only the kind I like.

Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson spoke about the resistance of the paper to publishing a cartoon of Mohammed, and said that any organisation that did so would face tremendous threats, without the safety in numbers that might have been hoped for in the aftermath of the attack two years ago. Rowson added that one of the great threats to freedom of speech was the belief that the greatest human right of all was a right to not be upset.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP, who sponsored the room for the NSS, congratulated the Society on hosting the event and said that it was inspiring to hear such a strong defence of free expression.

 

20th January

 Offsite Article: Policing criticism of Islam: the new Star Chamber...

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Spiked logo Newspapers are being forced to recant their questioning of Islam. By Tom Slater

See article from spiked-online.com

 

7th January

 Commented: Real Housewives of ISIS...

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BBC generates a little 'outrage' for poking fun at terrorists
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real housewives of isis video A BBC comedy depicting brides of terrorists in a spoof reality show-style sketch has been criticised for being insensitive .

Revolting's Real Housewives of Isis a skit, based on the popular US television model recently exported to Britain, features actors dressed as brides of Isil fighters taking selfies and showing off suicide belts.

The Telegraph then listed a few politically correct whinges lifted from social media with none being from campaign groups or politicians etc.

Update: Why shouldn't we mock female jihadists?

7th January 2017 See  article from ibtimes.co.uk by Sara Khan, director of the counter-extremism and women's rights organisation Inspire

The short trailer provides a taste of not only the dry wit and sarcasm we Brits are well known for, but also provides the viewer a window into the ridiculous and absurd rationale of some of the women who chose to leave the UK for the murderous death cult.

As someone who has studied some of these female supporters and Isis' ideology on women, it was clear the writers had well and truly done their homework. They brilliantly displayed the oxymoron death to the West attitude of these British women, while mocking their all too obvious Western traits, language, tastes and outlook.

...Read the full article from ibtimes.co.uk

 

5th January

  Inappropriate cultural appropriation...

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Poster for night club event generates a little 'outrage'
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elrow-partyElrow, a Barcelona club which takes events around the world, caused controversy after they pictured Shiva smoking and drinking to promote an Indian-themed night at Manchester's Albert Hall.

The deity Shiva was depicted with a chicken beak with a cigarette hanging out his mouth whilst holding a mobile phone with an open Champagne bottle and an inflatable hammer.

The Albert Hall has apologised any offence caused and has changed the image used on its online promotions.

Hiten Mistry, the president of the Kings College London Hindu Society, told student newspaper, The Tab:

The Elrow Bollywood picture is disrespectful and insulting to many, including the Hindu community. Shiva is one the principal deities of Hinduism and Elrow has depicted Shiva in an unacceptable manner with a party mask and cigarette.  Also, to use something that many people consider sacred for an event like this is inappropriate. In addition to this, Bollywood and Hinduism are two different things.

The picture, which was originally the cover photo for the Facebook event, has now been cropped and only displays the title of the night.

 

26th December

 Update: Ofcom Teachings...

Ofcom fines Noor TV 75,000 for a religious parable about killing jews
Link Here  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
noor tv logoNoor TV is a digital satellite television channel broadcasting religious and other programming in Urdu from an Islamic perspective to audiences in the UK and internationally.

On 17 November 2015, the Licensee broadcast the second instalment of a series of four programmes which had been recorded at the Urs Nehrian festival in Pakistan that had taken place in June 2015. The programme consisted of 15 religious scholars and preachers addressing an assembled congregation with short sermons, homilies and poetic verses.

One of the speakers, Allama Mufti Muhammad Saeed Sialvi Sahib (“Allama Sialvi”), recounted a parable in which he stated that the Prophet Muhammed had given a general command to kill all Jewish people. He stated that upon hearing this command one Muslim follower had immediately killed a Jewish trader with whom he had long standing business relations. Allama Sialvi held this to be an example of the devotion and obedience of a disciple to the Prophet Muhammed and on several occasions appeared to condone the killing of a Jewish trader.

We noted that Allama Sialvi held the titles “Mufti” and “Allama”, denoting that he was a figure of religious authority within the Muslim community, and therefore someone whose views would carry some weight within the Muslim community.

We considered that Allama Sialvi's clear statement that religious obedience within the Islamic faith could be demonstrated through murder of Jewish people had the potential to be interpreted as spreading anti-Semitism, i.e. his comments could amount to a form of hate speech . In this context we were mindful of the Council of Europe's definition of' hate speech', as follows: all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin

We considered that Allama Sialvi's speech, particularly due to his standing and authority within the Muslim community, involved clear potential to cause significant offence as it held up in unequivocal terms the killing of a Jewish person as an example of devotion and obedience within the context of the Islamic faith. We also considered that the content had the potential to cause harm by portraying the murder of Jewish people in highly positive terms and promoting a highly negative anti-Semitic attitude towards Jewish people.

Ofcom's Decision is that an appropriate and proportionate sanction would be a financial penalty of £75,000. In addition, Ofcom considers that the Licensee should broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.