Archive for May, 2008

In God’s Name – the backlash begins

Channel 4’s Dispatches show last week exposed the growth of Christian fundamentalism in the UK. The predicted backlash has begun, with various bodies declaring their disappointment and anger.

Stephen Green was the first to get his word in, with a bitter press release in which he basically claimed that he was too deep for the documentary makers to understand. He concludes by expressing his bafflement at the Dispatches “peculiar” editorial policy:

where militant Islam in all its horror can be exposed one moment, then its peaceful Christian opponents are castigated the next.

On the contrary, both Undercover Mosque and In God’s Name fit neatly into a series of documentaries about dangerous idiots talking nonsense.

Joel Edwards, the outgoing director of the Evangelical Alliance, branded Green an “extremist” in an open letter to Channel 4. He also said Andrea Williams may have been “naive and controversial”, but did not appear to disagree with any of her views. Indeed, if you asked Mr Edwards how old the earth is – a question that is becoming a shibboleth for rationality – it is highly likely that he will prevaricate, just like Andrea and the headmaster of that creationist school in Bristol, before finally plumping for a figure around the 6,000 year mark.

Finally, the Christian Broadcasting Council complained that the recent rationalist victories in parliament concerning the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill were largely due to negative media coverage of the Christian position, particularly Dispatches, which

was wrong to pour ridicule and scorn on those who hold to Christian values. It was a wrong use of investigative journalism, presented as facts to the general public.

Actually, those Christians featured in the programme dug their own holes, much like the imams in Undercover Mosque. It is notable how similar to each other the Christians and Muslims sound in their complaints.

Dutch imams support Nekschot

Controversial cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot has received support from an unlikely source – The Union of Moroccan Imams in the Netherlands.

Their chairman, Yassin Elforkan, told De Pers newspaper yesterday,

Debate is healthy; you are allowed to say anything. […] You live in a certain environment where agreements have been made. […] For example, that freedom of expression is a core value of Dutch society. Earlier generations have fought for this.

Some MPs in the Lower House have suggested that Nekschot’s arrest was an appeasement gesture by the government in penance for allowing Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration movie Fitna to be shown.

Scientology case dropped

Charges against a teenage anti-Scientology demonstrator have been dropped, the BBC reports.

The CPS are denying that they advised the City of London Police that the sign carried by the teenager which said “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult” constituted an “an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986”.

So were the police misinformed, mistaken, or simply lying? We may well find out, because Liberty are considering action. Their legal director James Welch said:

At last an outbreak of common sense; but pretty worrying for free speech that the police even threatened this young man with prosecution.

They may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue. Democracy is all about clashing ideas and the police should protect peaceful protest, not stifle it.

(Hat tip Bartholomew)

The Nekschot 8

Finally, thanks to Rogier over at Nobody’s Business, we have scans of the eight cartoons Gregorius Nekschot was forced to remove from his website.

It is interesting to note which cartoons were not censored by the Dutch authorities. The ones which would cause the most offence to Muslims as Muslims are not present here – depictions of Mohammed having varieties of sex with little Aisha, for example, were left alone. The cartoons the authorities have singled out for censorship are more racially than religiously offensive: sponging foreign goat-fuckers mugging us indigenous whites and abusing our women.

But however much you may object to Nekschot’s message, the principle remains the same: you don’t arrest cartoonists just because you don’t like their politics.

And in the age of the internet, attempts at censorship are counter-productive.

The Xmas Imam wishes you blessed holidays and … a propitious 1426
“This is only the 2nd generation”
“Dough, man… Dough!!”nekschot3
Muslim Democratic Party presents its logo.
Mrs. El Ouroubouro née Klapstra
“Dutch people should learn to adapt a little bit more. At least you can learn something from corrective slaps”
Ali El Wakkie practices Islamic charity
“It is my duty to help this constipated bear.”
Why muslim youth identify with Palestinians:
“hanging ’round…
don’t go to school…
no homework…
provoke the police…
collect welfare…”
Now also a slavery monument for indigenous white tax payers
Ali is plenty comfortable on his ottoman
“Nowhere does the Koran say you have to do something in return for 30 years of receiving welfare.”

Japanese cartoon “insults” Koran, offends Muslims

dio brandoA Japanese anime producer has been forced to apologise and suspend production of a cartoon because of a scene showing the villain reading the Koran.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a popular anime published by Shueisha Inc, features a baddie called Dio Brando who picks a Koran from a bookshelf and examines it before ordering the deaths of the hero and his chums.

This scene depicts Muslims as terrorists, which is not true at all. This is an insult to the religion and the producers would be considered to be enemies of Islam.

said the sane and rational Sheikh Abdul Hamid Attrash, chairman of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar in Cairo.

There have been calls for an international Muslim boycott of Japanese goods. Good luck with that one, Muslim world.

Shueisha Inc, keen not to lose sales in the Muslim market, grovelled accordingly.

Dutch MPs furious at Nekschot arrest

nekschot magazineA cross-party majority coalition of MPs in the Dutch Lower House is calling for an emergency inquiry into the arrest of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot.

Only the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the small Christian Unie party seem unperturbed by the unprecedented and heavy-handed police action against the satirist. Indeed, the CDA are largely responsible for it, and it is their Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin who will be held to account.

VVD leader Mark Rutte said:

It is time the CDA came to their senses, and publicly support one of the most important basic rights in our country, because it appears that the CDA is prepared to sacrifice freedom of speech at the altar of standards and values.

(The translation is questionable)

Nekschot’s arrest followed three years after a complaint by the Dutch-born convert to Islam, Abdul Jabbar van de Ven. On the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh, this babbling rug-butter said on Dutch TV how happy he felt, and how he hoped Allah would also arrange the death of Geert Wilders “for example by cancer”.

HP / de Tijd, the magazine which publishes a Nekschot cartoon every week, will today publish all 8 of those confiscated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. MWW will do the same, when we find out what they are.

Green’s message from God

By popular demand, here is the highlight of Channel 4’s In the Name of God documentary – the minute-long clip in which Stephen Green receives a message from on high.


A new Dispatches affair?

The backlash from In God’s Name, Channel 4’s latest religious-bigot-exposing documentary, has not yet begun – but it will be interesting to compare it to the uproar caused when the bigots being exposed were Muslims (as in Undercover Mosque), rather than Christians. MWW predicts that a handful of complaints to Ofcom about bias/misrepresentation will be made, then dismissed. And that will be the end of it.
andrea minichiello williams
It was an excellent documentary. Informative and entertaining at the same time. Stephen “Bird Shit” Green featured quite prominently (watch the doc to understand the new nickname, or read Bartholomew’s review), and he cut a rather pathetic figure. Almost pathologically obsessed with his image, he veered from cheerful bonhomie to the edge of violent irritation. He is obviously such a disturbed personality – a tragic example of the damage religion can do to the weak-minded – that we that almost felt bad about making fun of him so much. Almost.

But Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship was the real star of the show. More media-savvy than any of the others, she was shown frantically running around an “pro-life” demo trying to get the cameras to stop filming the loonier elements of her natural constituency. But even she floundered when asked such basic questions as “How old is the earth?” (she reckons about 4,000 years) and “Is Islam the work of the Devil?” (she almost certainly thinks so, but does not want to say it in front of a camera).

We await the response with eager anticipation.

Blasphemy on the menu offends Bangalore Sikhs

Sikhs have been demonstrating in Bangalore because the menu card of a restaurant contained symbols and jokes with “hurt the sentiments of the community”.

Gurudwara Committee president Gursharan Singh:

A picture on the card shows the holy Kirpan (sword) and turban kept along with the footwear, which hurts our sentiments. The Kirpan and turbans are highly revered symbols of our religion. The menu card projects Sikhs in a bad light.

Nobody should hurt sentiments of other communities. If the hotel management fails to tender a public apology through media or send a written apology to the Gurudwara, Bangalore’s Sikh community – comprising 8,000 members – will stage a massive dharna to prevent them from carrying out their business

(Thanks again Feòrag)

This sign is illegal in the UK

scientology is a cult

A protester outside Scientology’s London headquarters was ordered by police to take down a sign saying “Scientology is not a religion – it is a dangerous cult”. According to the anarchist newsletter Schnews the 15-year-old demonstrator, who goes by the name “The Epic Nose Guy”, was handed a written warning by a WPC stating,

The sign you are displaying commits an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. You are strongly advised to remove the sign with immediate effect.

One police officer told Schnews that,

Our solicitors at the Crown Prosecution Service have advised us that any signs saying ‘Scientology is a cult’ could be deemed offensive. They are being treated as a religious organisation for the purposes of today.

The CoS and the City of London Police appear to have a rather cosy relationship, with Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley speaking at the opening of the London HQ in October, saying the science-fiction cultists were “raising the spiritual wealth of society”.

Here is Epic Nose Guy, who was given a court summons for refusing to remove his sign, explaining what happened on the day of the protest.

(Hat tip, Bartholomew)

UPDATE: (May 21) The Guardian has more information, including this quote from Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty:

This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions.

After criminalising the use of the word ‘cult’, perhaps the next step is to ban the words ‘war’ and ‘tax’ from peaceful demonstrations?

And from Ian Haworth, from the Cult Information Centre:

This is an extraordinary situation. If it wasn’t so serious it would be farcical. The police’s job is to protect and serve. Who is being served and who is being protected in this situation? I find it very worrying.

Scientology is well known to my organisation, and has been of great concern to me for 22 years. I get many calls from families with loved ones involved and ex-members who are in need of one form of help.