“Palestinian” atheist imprisoned, beaten for criticism of Islam

“My views, however, cannot be changed by a prison sentence or by persecution. I still believe that Islam often stands in opposition to human rights and women’s rights. I believe that the Qur’an relays that Muhammad demanded death for non-believers….” Waleed Al Husseini better be careful with talk like that. He’s in the Daily Beast today as a prisoner of conscience, but if he continues to say that “Islam often stands in opposition to human rights and women’s rights” and that “the Qur’an relays that Muhammad demanded death for non-believers,” he will soon begin to be denounced as a racist, bigoted, right-wing, hatemongering Islamophobe by those who preen that they are the champions of free thought.
“What It’s Like to Be an Atheist in Palestine,” by Waleed Al Husseini, Daily Beast, December 8, 2014:
Like many non-religious people around the world, I use the Internet to express my thoughts. It provides a relatively safe way of speaking freely, especially in a country where the vast majority believe in one religion and do not like to hear criticism. Or so I thought.
I used to run a blog in Arabic called “Nour Alakl” and ran a satirical Facebook page under the pseudonym “Allah.” But in October 2010, Palestinian security forces stormed into an Internet cafe and arrested me. Until then, I had been under the impression that I had a right to freedom of speech and to the freedom of belief. But in jail, I was told that my online statements about religion and Islam were illegal. I was told that society didn’t accept such criticisms.

That’s certainly true in the West, if not in “Palestine.”
I was beaten by prison guards who demanded to know who had made me write against Islam. In their minds, I could only say these things as the result of some plot, some conspiracy. The idea that I might simply want to express my independent thoughts was alien to them.
The 10 months I spent in Palestinian prison were the worse of my life. I faced constant pressure to retract my statements. I was told they had removed my blog and that I must apologize for publishing it. Even once I was freed, I was told I should never again use the Internet, nor meet with the media.
For months after my release, I was harassed by the security services, who further interrogated me and detained me without cause. I received letters from people saying they wanted to kill me.
My views, however, cannot be changed by a prison sentence or by persecution. I still believe that Islam often stands in opposition to human rights and women’s rights. I believe that the Qur’an relays that Muhammad demanded death for non-believers. Many Muslims may disagree with my view, or interpret Islam in a more moderate way, but I cannot accept this religion myself. That is what my conscience tells me….
 waleed AL husseini book published in france
Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad Related Posts with thumbnails for bloggerEfadaBlog

Blasphemateur. Le prigioni di Allah

Waleed Al Husseini è un coraggioso giovane di 25 anni nato in Cisgiordania. Arrestato e torturato dalle autorità palestinesi per i suoi scritti su facebook e sul suo blog con l' accusa di villipendio della religione, ha poi trovato rifugio in Francia, dove l'editore Grasset ha tradotto e pubblicato il suo libro "Blasphemateur. Le prigioni di Allah", in cui racconta la sua esperienza, l' islam e la società islamica. Insieme ad altri trenta ex musulmani, nel 2013 ha creato il "Conseil des ex-musulmans de France", composto da atei, liberi pensatori ed umanisti che prendono posizione per incoraggiare la ragione, i diritti universali, la laicità e il diritto di critica della religione, e per la proibizione di tutte quelle pratiche religiose discriminatorie, nei confronti delle donne e delle scelte private nelle relazioni emotive e sessuali nella vita degli uomini, e contrarie alla libertà e ai diritti dei popoli.

 Cari amici,
dopo la pubblicazione della mio libro, "Blasphemateur. Le prigioni di Allah", giusto una settimana dopo gli attentati contro Charli Hebdo, la minaccia è onnipresente in Francia. Così, alcune librerie si rifiutano di esporre il mio libro per paura di rappresaglie. Altri librai temono reazioni anche di coloro che, benchè quasi analfabeti, non esiterebbero a usare la loro arma preferita, la violenza. Nonostante le buone intenzioni, anche la casa editrice Grasset non può correre il rischio di organizzare incontri pubblici intorno al libro e a richiedere l' intervento della polizia, sopraffatta dal piano Vigipirate, per garantire la sicurezza.
Nonostante tutto questo disagio, un libraio da Saint Hippolyte du Fort (Gard) mi ha invitato in aprile per organizzare una sessione di firma. Per farmi incontrare molti dei miei amici, gli organizzatori hanno dimostrato non solo coraggio, ma soprattutto hanno confermato il loro rifiuto ad abdicare contro l' ideologia violenta degli islamisti. Inoltre, un'altra dimostrazione potrebbe tenersi presto anche a Nîmes.
Nonostante le intimidazioni e i tentativi di intimidazione di cui sono il bersaglio, io mi rifiuto di abbassare il braccio. La mia lotta continua, perciò risponderò sempre positivamente a qualsiasi libreria o associazione desideri discutere il mio libro, o, più in generale, il tema del libro.
Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad

Blasphémateur ! The right to be atheist in Palestine


Book review
Blasphémateur !’,
by Waleed al-Husseini
Grasset, Paris
EAN : 9782246854616
marieme helie lucas

On January 14, 2015, a book, by Waleed al Husseini, titled: ‘Blasphemer !’, will be released in Paris. The date that was set in advance, but it so happened that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were slaughtered just a few days before the book launch.
This highlights two facts that many prefer to ignore : on the one hand, the first victims of armed fundamentalist non-state actors and/or of fundamentalist states live in so-called Muslim countries; on the other hand, it is not just in France or in the West that people free themselves from religious beliefs, many agnostics and atheists live in hiding in our countries, or pay the high price for declaring themselves non believers.
Under this flamboyant title ‘Blasphemer !’, the young Palestinian author – age 25 – describes an experience which is shared by more and more youth in North Africa and in the Middle East. Like everywhere else in the world, young people come of age, suffocating and oppressed by religiosity in their family and in their neighbouhood; they refuse to renounce their craving for freedom, the discovery of sexuality, and freely mixing with the world’s youth. They end up rejecting religion, ‘loosing faith’ - if at all they ever had one of their own. Few of them take the pain – as Waleed did - to seriously explore their reasons not to believe in god.
Being rejected by their family is painful, a split of the heart from beloved ones that one goes on loving, often for lack of belonging perspectives elsewhere, as there are no atheist communities that could welcome them, with whom they could share their ideas. They face emotional and intellectual isolation.
And they face fear too. For, increasingly during the last two decades in many Muslim-majority countries, young libertarians’ rejection of religion is met – not just with moral sanction from family and neighbours -, but with state legal repression.
This is the experience Waleed al Husseini describes and ‘blasphemer’ is not just a flamboyant title for a book : it is indeed the accusation made against him when he was only 20 years old, that brought him into Palestinian jails where he experienced torture for being an unbeliever.
He is far from being the only one facing such a dreadful fate : young and not-so-young people (the eldest is probably Kassim Ahmed, age 82, a Muslim erudite, accused of ‘insulting islam’, who will be tried by the Sharia Court on the decision of the High Court in Malaysia) are regularly jailed ( like the egyptian journalist Bishoy Boulous Armia, age 32, sentenced to 5 years in jail on allegations of causing ‘sectarian rif’ and ‘insulting Islam’ for testifying on persecution of Christians in Egypt); or they are sentenced to torture ( like Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, due to be flogged a thousand times - 1000 ! - for ‘insult to Islam’) ; or they are sentenced to death penalty ( like Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitirin in Mauretania, age 28, journalist and anti-slavery activist, sentenced to death on December 25, 2014 for ‘insulting the Prophet’ – he obviously disturbed some big slave trafficking and the religious argument was used to silence him for good) ; and they are even executed for ‘insulting Islam’ or for ‘blasphemy’ (Mohsen Amir-Aslani, age 27, declared guitly of insulting Prophet Jonah and of ‘introducing innovations in religion’ by his interpretations of the Qur’an, was hanged in Iran in September 2014) *
In secular France, - how long will it remain secular ? – one can still be a declared atheist or agnostic without running risk : a recent enough and serious piece of research** shows that the percentage of unbelievers is pretty similar in the French ‘Christian’ population and in the French ‘Muslim’ one : both show around 25% of declared atheists. Practicing believers are as few in one and the other religious denominations (about 5%), and the rest of the population limits its practice to celebrating Christmas or Eid.
This is likely to shatter prejudice. It certainly explains why Waleed al-Husseini, when he finally got out of the Palestinian jail and came to France as a refugee, was outraged at being branded ‘Muslim’ once more, as is the case of so many migrants or French citizens of migrant Muslim descent. He felt the need to set up an organization that represents him : the Council of ex-Muslims in France.
Similar organizations mushroomed in many places in Europe : the first one was set up in Germany by an Iranian woman, Mina Ahadi; it was quickly followed by a second one in the UK led by another Iranian, the formidable and tireless Maryam Namazie ; then it started in Scotland, in France, etc...
However, it would be erroneous to believe that ex-Muslims come out in Europe only: Imad Iddine Habib is the founder of the Council of ex-Muslims in Morocco; persecuted by the regime, he finally had to come out of his country. In Algeria, the « un-fasters » ( a playing on words – de-jeûneurs-, since ‘breaking the fast’ and ‘having lunch’ sound alike in French) organize public picnics during Ramdan, at great risk for themselves, in order to stand for their right not to be forced to be Muslims; interestingly, declared believers - who are fasting - join them and protect them, openly telling the media that they are opposed to government’s enforcement of Ramdan and to denial of freedom of conscience.
Waleed al Husseini is fully aware of the numerous issues that are in stock for him after the publication of his book.
The first danger of course comes from our green-fascists, a minority indeed but a vocal and determined one, who takes it as a religious duty to physically eliminate ‘kofr’ – i.e. anyone who does not pander to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
But not just them.
There are the well-meaning Lefties who - till such time an end is put to Israel’s control over Palestine, deem it inappropriate to raise any concern with whatever is taking place in Palestine – even torture and arbitrary detention for exercising one’s freedom of conscience, - a clear indicator of Islamist ideology’s progress within the Palestinian state. (Regarding the critic of the theory of priorities and the ‘main enemy’, please see Daniel Bensaïd’s comment, and the little poem he quotes ‘ I was shot down by my secondary enemy’.***)
And there is the large ‘respectful’ Left whose above-all concern is to avoid being accused of racism; they were instrumental in disseminating all over the world the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ that was created and propagated by Muslim fundamentalists. As if it were an idea that was slaughtered, as if it were ‘Islam’ that was facing pogroms, rather than hapless humans hunted down by racist crowds which certainly do not check on their religion before hitting their brown skins. Just ask Syrian Christians how they feel about it when they come to Europe. And, alas, it is too late to ask the too-dark-skined Brasilian who was the only one murdered after the London bombing.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the international English-speaking media gave us the best possible exemple of cowardly response to Muslim fundamentalism –no other brand of fundamentalism ever deserves this cautious treatment but the Muslim one; of course no one dared dispense of condemning violence, but right after having paid lip service to it, they started with caveat : yes, it is terrible but Charlie was ‘provocative’ regarding religion ; yes butCharlie had been well warned to stop it ; yes but Charlie, actually, was ‘Islamophobic’, etc…
There are also, of course, the traditional, racist and anti-Muslim right and far-right which will attempt to misuse his book, thrilled that a ‘Muslim’ may attack ‘Islam’. But Waleed al-Husseini is very clear about the différence between racism and the fundamentalist concept ‘islamophobia’. In his book, he mentions an incident: when 5 members of a far-right organization using a ‘secularist’ label as camouflage disturbed the launch of the Council of ex-Muslims of France. They had come in the hope of participating in some Muslims-bashing, but they were rebuffed by all the speakers one after the other, who firmy told them they only defended their right to be atheists.
To publicly resist, all in one go, to the traditional racist far-right, to the Muslim fundamentalist far-right, and to the coward Left in France – this is the task for Waleed al-Husseini.
We wish him a lot of courage and of political clarity to continue his struggle without falling into any trap. He already showed he did not lack courage when he faced Palestinian jails; and he also proved he did not lack political clarity by not letting any one use him politically.
May this straight forward and very thruthful book encourage Waleed al-Husseini’s new fellow-citizens – the French people – to support the vibrant popular forces wich, everywhere in our so-called Muslim countries, fight fundamentalism in isolation, feeling abandonned by the rest of the world.
Notes :
*Maryam Namazie : A defence of Charlie Hebdo must also turn into defence of other blasphemers and apostates
** Patrick Simon, Paris, INED, quoted in : Marieme Helie Lucas, A South-North transfer of political competence : women of migrant Muslim descent in France, p 46, in Marieme Helie Lucas ed. :The struggle for secularism in Europe and North America :Women from migrant descent facing the rise of fundamentalism, September 29 2014, Amazon, paperback, ISBN-10 : 1907024220 ISBN-13 : 978-1907024221
*** idem p IV: ‘The control of capital over bodies, its strong will to reveal their market value, does not at all reduce their control by religious law and the theological will to make them disappear…The poor dialectic of main and secondary contradictions, forever revolving, already played too many bad tricks. And the ‘secondary enemy’, too often underestimated, because the fight against the main enemy was claimed to be apriority, sometimes has been deadly’. Daniel Bensaïd.
Bensaïd goes on quoting Erich Fried’s poem: ‘Totally caught into my struggle against the main enemy/ I was shot by my secondary enemy/ Not from the back, treacherously, as his main enemies claim/ But directly, from the position it has long been occupying/And in keeping with his declared intentions that I did not bother about, thinking they were insignificant’.
**** Statement : After the Charlie Hebdo’s massacre, Support those who fight the religious-right, 
January 7, 201

Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad

Erdogan: women are not equal to men

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off a new controversy on Monday, declaring that women are not equal to men and accusing feminists of not understanding the special status that Islam attributes to mothers.

Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on women and justice, Erdogan said men and women are created differently, that women cannot be expected to undertake the same work as men, and that mothers enjoy a high position that only they can reach.

"You cannot put women and men on an equal footing," Erdogan said. "It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different."
Erdogan added: "Motherhood is the highest position ... You cannot explain this to feminists. They don't accept motherhood. They have no such concern."

Lawyer and women's rights activist Hulya Gulbahar said Erdogan's comments were in violation of Turkey's constitution, Turkish laws and international conventions on gender equality and didn't help efforts to stem high incidences of violence against women in Turkey.

"Such comments by state officials which disregard equality between men and women play an important role in the rise of violence against women," Gulbahar said. "Such comments aim to make women's presence in public life — from politics to arts, from science to sports — debatable."

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, often courts controversy with divisive public comments. He has previously angered women's groups by stating that women should bear at least three children and by attempting to outlaw abortion and adultery.

He raised eyebrows this month by declaring that Muslims had discovered the Americas before Christopher Columbus.

Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad

Topless feminists targets Pope with explicit protest

Femen activists protest in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican. The protest is against the Pope's planned visit at EU parliament as an attack on secularism.

Femen, the women's rights group known for topless protests, took their act to a new level of provocation on Friday with an explicitly sexually suggestive demonstration in front of the Vatican.

In what they described as a protest over Pope Francis's upcoming visit to the European Parliament, three members of the group appeared on St Peter's square wearing only leather mini-skirts and flower garlands in their hair

Two of them had "Keep it Inside" written on their backs - a slogan apparently related to what followed.
After bending forward, the women dropped down on to all fours, all the time appearing to simulate anal sex with a crucifix.

Police quickly intervened to drag the women away as bemused onlooking tourists snapped the scene with their smartphones.

It was not immediately clear if the activists would face any criminal charges.
According to the group, the protest was organized because they regard the Pope's November 25th visit to the European Parliament as an attack on secular principles.
"Pope is not a politician," one of the three women had emblazoned across her exposed breasts.

God is not a magician, pope is not a politician!
FEMEN calls politicians to boycott the visit on Pope on Strasbourg. FEMEN calls all unbelievers and secular believers to unite and protest against the crime against secularism that will happen on 25th on November in EU Parliament!
Religion has no place in politics! Pope has no place in the parliament! Keep it in private! Stick it deep inside!  
Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad

Jesus and Mary Magdalene were 'married with children,' ancient manuscript claims

Jesus was a devoted family man with two kids and Mary Magdalene for his wife, a new history book based on an ancient manuscript claims.

According to the 1,500-year-old text, there was a previously unknown plot on Jesus’s life 13 years prior to the crucifixion. The revelations were made by Professor of Religious Studies at Toronto's York University, Barrie Wilson, and an Israeli-Canadian historical writer and filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici.

One of the most astounding claims in the book is that Mary Magdalene was the same person as the Virgin Mary. The authors of The Lost Gospel assert that the manuscript features the names of the two children of Christ and Mary Magdalene – and even recites an assassination attempt against Mary and the children.

The book also chronicles Jesus’s connections to Emperor Tiberius and his best friend, the soldier Sejanus.

The manuscript, known as “The Ecclesiastical History of Zacharias Rhetor (of Mytilene)” has been with the British Museum and then the British Library for nearly 170 years, according to The Sunday Times. It was purchased by the British Museum in 1847 before being transferred to the British Library some 20 years ago.

The Lost Gospel, which has been translated from Aramaic, is set to come out later this month; details of the manuscript are expected to be revealed at a press conference at the British Library on Wednesday. 

Some religious scholars are not enthusiastic about the upcoming release. "We're basically looking at a sensationalist money-making scheme here," Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary Greg Carey told the Huffington Post. 

Arguing that the text has not been "uncovered" by Jacobovici and Wilson, as they claim, the professor says "over three hundred scholarly books and articles devoted to this text" can be found online, with over twenty manuscripts of the story. The ancient novel needs no "decoding," Carey says, as it simply has no secret meaning. 

One of the men behind the new to-be-announced revelation, the Emmy-winning journalist Simcha Jacobovici, has been previously criticized by some scholars for his other takes on the history of early Christianity. Jacobovici has been involved in court suits, after being accused of publicizing scientifically dubious theories, and Discovery Channel once listed his documentary among the top 10 scientific hoaxes of all time. 

Claims that Jesus was married have been published before. One of the latest cases was the 2012 discovery of an Egyptian papyrus fragment, which some scholars believed to be the first explicit reference to Jesus being married. 

Although many claimed it was a forgery, according to the results of a carbon dating test released earlier this year, the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” could have originated as far back as the 8th century AD, shattering allegations that the fragment of paper had been produced more recently by fraudsters

Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad

Lesbian Couple Pulls Off First Gay Marriage in Russia

How is this possible, you are probably asking?  One of the two women in this couple is trans, and still is legally listed as male, even though she is living life as a woman.  Trans people, for many years, have been skirting these sorts of laws since many places either continue to legally recognize them as their sex assigned at birth even well into transition, or because the legal process for changing sex is too complicated/cost prohibitive to be worth it.  I am reasonably confident that they are probably not even the first couple to have done this in Russia, but to do so in clear defiance of Russia’s wave of anti-LGBTQ laws is a bold and brave move.
Unsurprisingly some overzealous Russian authorities are outraged:

The event has started evolving into a scandal with St. Petersburg MP Vitaly Milonov, known for his anti-LGBT drive, vowing to launch a probe to check the legality of the marriage.
“I understood their [registry office workers’] unconvincing arguments; they formally approached the issue and saw passports, but not people. I told the head [of the wedding registry office] that it is criminal negligence,” he told NTV channel.
Milonov said he is going to get prosecutors involved to try to avoid such “ugly insults to millions of Russian families in the future.”

It will be interesting to see how the Russians try to handle this.  If they simply sweep it under the rug, if they order a change to the gender on Irina’s passport to nullify the marriage (which would set an interesting precedent for gender changes in Russia), or if they simply void it on some technicality.  In any case I hope the point has been made - Russia can pass all the laws they want, but you cannot keep the LGBTQ community down.  Love finds its way.

Strangely enough, for all the discrimination and violence they often face, trans people have sometimes had some more legal standing than lesbian/gay individuals.  For instance, Iran (which is rightly notorious for its views on LGBTQ individuals) allows for trans people to undergo gender reassignment surgery and live as their preferred gender, while still criminalizing crossdressing and homosexuality.  The only catch is that if you are trans you must undergo surgery, and then behave properly in your new gender.  That is not to say that trans people have it “easy” in Iran (or other countries that have similar requirements), but it is to say that the existence of trans people make for some interesting legal conundrums in socially conservative societies.

It is certainly my hope that Russia will come around and embrace LGBTQ people as valued, full members of society.  That day is likely far off, but in the meantime, I am glad to see that there are still queer people willing to take a risk and push on the boundaries of the legal and social codes.  That there are still Russians will to march in pride events in the face of daunting threats of arrests, fines, threats, and physical violence.  

Congrats Irina & Alyona!  Stay fabulous (and safe, please)

Continue Reading.... Résuméabuiyad
Blogger Widgets