Archive for January, 2007

MCB paranoia reaches new heights

Tonight’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, Undercover Mosque , has prompted a pre-emptive squeal of paranoid outrage from Muhammad Abdul Bari, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Channel 4 sent an undercover reporter into a few high-profile mosques and recorded Saudi-trained imams preaching radical nonsense about democracy, jihad, and how women are intellectually deficient.

Bari sees an evil media conspiracy at work behind the scenes:

From the latest transcript it is clear that Monday’s heavily hyped ‘Dispatches’ is an attempt to forment [sic] sectarian divisions among British Muslims

begins the press release. Indeed, it is easy to imagine a cabal of media conspirators sitting around a table figuring out ways to promote division among British Muslims – after they have fulfilled their “malicious agenda” against Christianity and succeeded in their “deliberate attempt to dilute the thinking of ordinary Hindus”.

Or maybe some religious groups adopt the status of persecuted victim in an attempt to silence any negative criticism of their faith? Hmm… which is the more likely scenario?

Bari does not attempt to deny that several outwardly moderate mosques have given platforms to some seriously nutty imams. What he is saying is that Channel 4 should shut up about it.

Undercover Mosque is broadcast tonight at 8pm.

Back in 2005 the MCB complained to Ofcom about a BBC documentary called “A Question of Leadership”. Ofcom dropped the investigation because the MCB did not provide the appropriate written authority to act on behalf of the named individuals they said they were complaining on behalf of, and also failed to complete a complaint form.

“Moment of reflection” causes offence

Totnes Town Council in Devon used to begin each session with a Christian prayer led by a local clergyman. This has now been repplaced by a “quiet moment of reflection” in an attempt to “bring it into the 21st century”.

Mayor Pru Boswell said:

We are trying to reflect the different needs of different councillors. It is nothing to do with being politically correct.

Of course, The Daily Express has spun this act of inclusion into a political-correctness-gone-mad story by claiming the prayers were scrapped “to allay fears they may offend other religions”.

And they got a nice quote from Stephen “Dog Shit” Green:

A decision like this is very unhelpful for people of other faiths because it causes tensions where there were none before.

Note the veiled threat behind “is very unhelpful for people of other faiths”. Unhelpful how? Because it “causes tensions where there were none before”? Oh, you mean it makes Christian bigots like you angry.

Sometimes that man sounds just like a Danish imam.

Danish imams off the hook

The Danish imams who travelled to the Middle East to stir up Motoon fever will not be charged, a Danish prosecutor has decided.

Birgitte Vestberg said she found no evidence that the imams had sought “hostilities against Denmark” or had violated the penal code.

A spokesman for the imams said he was “very satisfied by this decision”.

Anything else would have been a disaster for the imams and their image.

Wouldn’t want to tarnish their spotless reputation!

Popetown latest

News reaches us from a reliable source that the Catholic Church in Lithuania plans to sue MTV Lietuva over Popetown.

Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference President Sigitas Tamkevicius told Reuters:

We are going to lodge a complaint in court because we believe that the
rights of the faithful were violated by this mockery

Unfortunately, he did not specify which rights were violated.

The Popetown series is not only an insult to the pope, but to all the
Catholics of Lithuania

he added.

Ema Segal, a spokeswoman for MTV Lietuva, said:

This is just an artistic satire and nothing more. We neither attempted
to mock the religion, nor God himself

Which kind of misses the point. There is nothing wrong with mocking religion (who knows what she means when she says “God himself”?). In fact it is an honourable and necessary activity. Why not admit it, if that’s what you do?

Maoris “not very upset” by topless haka

Canterbury Women’s Rugby team have inadvertently caused offence – but not much – to Maoris. Their fund-raising calendar for 2007, in aid of breast cancer care, included a topless picture of the team performing the Maori haka.

Maori MP Pita Sharples reminded the BBC that the haka was “a serious thing”, although he admitted he had “no problem” with the team’s fund raising effort, and he wished them well.

Some Maoris were upset by it, not terribly upset, but they thought it was in bad taste.

Thank goodness we have the BBC to tell us every time some religious community is slightly perturbed by something that happens on the other side of the world!

Still, it’s in a good cause.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: (22:20) OK, I hold my hands up. Maoris cannot really be described as a “religious community”, and the haka isn’t a particularly religious ritual. This is probably the reason why they are not particularly upset.

Redeker threatener arrested

A man has been arrested in Morocco in connection with threats made to the French philosophy teacher and columnist last year. The suspect is 20 years old.

On Sept 19, 2006 Redeker published an article in Le Figaro in which he attacked Islam and its inventor Muhammed. Some Muslims were so offended by the accusation that Islam was a violent religion that they sent death threats to the writer.

This is the second man to be arrested in connection with this affair. The first was a 25-year-old call centre worker in Orleans

Let the show begin!

Stephen Green, national director of the fundamentalist organisation Stephen Green’s Voice (aka Christian Voice), announced yesterday that his long-awaited blasphemy prosecution against the BBC has begun.

Two years ago yesterday BBC2 broadcast the comic musical Jerry Springer: The Opera. It contained scenes that many considered “blasphemous”. Now, after two years of campaigning and fund raising, Green has presented information before Horseferry Road Magistrates, hoping to begin a criminal action against Mark Thompson (the BBC’s Director General), and the show’s producer Jonathan Thoday.

If artistic people do not where or how to stop as they push against the boundaries of decency, then the law must step in and tell them,

said Green.

The District Judge Caroline Tubbs will decide later this week whether or not to support the application for a summons.

Oh go on, Caroline. Let this one go to court! We are rubbing our hands in eager expectation.

Green will almost certainly lose, but whatever the result, he is sure to interpret it as a sign from God. As he says in his fund raising letter:

if we fail to convince a jury that ‘Jerry Springer the Opera’ is blasphemous, it will be a sign of His judgment on our land. If they convict, it will be a sign of His mercy.

He doesn’t say what it will be a sign of if the the judge doesn’t deem the case worthy of a hearing. Let’s hope he doesn’t have to figure that one out. This is going to be fun!

Danish PM on the Motoons crisis

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen referred in his New Year’s Speech to the Motoons crisis which engulfed his nation for a few weeks at the beginning on 2006. He made a strong defence of Denmark’s stance during the crisis, saying how “most people found it difficult to understand that 12 drawings in a newspaper could cause fury on such a scale”.

Today, Denmark is looked at with respect. Because we stood firm when our fundamental values came under pressure. We stood guard to protect freedom of expression, which is our most precious fundamental freedom.

The right to publish our thoughts in speech, in writing, in drawings,
– the right to communicate freely our thoughts with earnestness and humour, with seriousness and satire, with facts and caricature,
– the right to speak out freely against those who hold political power, against religious authorities and against established and entrenched mindsets,
This is the very core of democracy.
And it is the driving force of enlightenment, education and development.

Motoon protest latest

The trial of a Motoons protestor is underway at the Old Bailey. Umran Javed, 27, of Birmingham, who took part in the protests on 3 Feb last year, has been accused of soliciting murder and stirring up racial hatred.

The QC told the court,

The words used were straight-forward and plain. If you shout out ‘bomb, bomb Denmark; bomb, bomb USA’, there is no doubt about what you intend your audience to understand.

The prosecution case is that the defendant was clearly encouraging people to commit murder – terrorist killing.

Javed was enraged because some people had drawn cartoons of a 7th century character called Mohammed, who some believe was a “prophet” (a person who communicates with “God” (a supernatural being believed by some to have created the universe)).

UPDATE: The Times carries a transcription of Umran Javed’s speech:

My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, we need to understand why we are here today. To declare that we will not stand for what Denmark did . . . We will not stand for what France, for what Europe, for what the whole of the disbelievers and the Western world are united for.

You have declared war against Allah and his Messenger. You have declared war against the Muslim community, for which you will pay a heavy price. Take lesson of Theo van Gogh. Take lesson of the Jews of Khaybar. Take lessons for what you can see, for you will pay with your blood. Denmark, you will pay. Denmark, you will pay, you will pay. With your blood, with your blood, with your blood. Bomb, bomb Denmark. Jihad is the path of God.

Democracy, hypocrisy. Democracy go to hell. Denmark go to hell. Freedom go to hell. Bomb, bomb Denmark. Denmark watch your back. Zarqawi is coming back. Bomb, bomb USA. Bomb, bomb Denmark.

UPDATE: (6.1.07) He was convicted, and remanded for sentencing in April.