Archive for January, 2010

Wilders re-invited to Lords to show Fitna

Dutch News reports that anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders has once again been invited to the House of Lords to speak and to show his YouTube hit film Fitna. Presumably the invitation comes from the same two peers as before: Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

Last year the same invitation was made, prompting a formal letter to the Dutchman from the then home secretary Jacqui Smith telling him to stay away for reasons of maintaining public order. As a result, Wilders was turned away at Heathrow, only to have that decision ruled unlawful by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal last October.

It will be interesting to hear what the deplorable ex-con Lord Ahmed has to say about it this time.

Wilders is currently awaiting the formal start of a trial in the Netherlands, where he is accused of saying hurtful things about a certain desert-born monotheistic belief system and its accompanying holy book.

Norwegian ambassador says “sorry” on behalf of newspaper

Pakistan’s Daily Mail carries a story claiming that the Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan has “strongly regretted” the re-publication of the Turbomb Motoon in the pages of Aftenposten.

Robert Kvile allegedly is of the view that the Norwegian government would “strive to reform understandings and to devise a strategy to stop such practices in future”.

Kvile and the Motoon: Image take from The Freethinker

Kvile was summoned to the office of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi, where he was informed that:

that people of Pakistan were very sensitive and love respect the last messenger of Almighty Allah, adding that their reactions were genuine and constructive. He added that Islam teaches tolerance and peace and discourages extremism.

According to the minister, re-publication of the image had

dented the feelings of the 1.5 billion Muslim community in the World

All of whom have subscriptions to Aftenposten, presumably. Who knew?

(Hat tip, The Freethinker)

Westergaard’s teenage fan video provokes threats

A teenage media student has made a video to show her “love and support” for Motoonist Kurt Westergaard, resulting in a number of threats from the usual quarters.

17 year old Nikoline Astrid Nielsen’s “Danger Romance with Kurt Westergaard”, sung to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, has gone viral in Denmark:

She says she was inspired when a Westergaard watercolour was rejected from a charity auction by a Danish auction house because they deemed it too risky (see below).

Copenhagen Post reports that a hate group was set up against her on Facebook, where threats were made and photos of accidents with her face superimposed upon the victims were published. That group seems to have disappeared, and all that remain are Fan Groups to the young infidel.

The police are investigating.

UK govt stands firm against UN defamation of religion proposals

It is nice to hear that repeated attempts by the ridiculous Organisation of the Islamic Conference to push a blasphemy law at the UN are being stoutly resisted by the UK government.

Last week, Lord Patten raised the question of the government’s position in Parliament, and it was answered by Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead:

The Government share the concern of the Organisation of Islamic Conference that individuals around the world are victimised because of their religion or belief. We all need to do more to eliminate religious intolerance and to ensure that those who incite hatred or violence against individuals because of their religious beliefs are dealt with by the law.
But the Government cannot agree with an approach that promotes the concept of “defamation of religions” as a response. This approach severely risks diminishing the right to freedom of expression. We believe that international human rights law already strikes the right balance between the individual’s right to express themselves freely and the need for the state to limit this right in certain circumstances. International human rights law provides that only where advocacy of religious hatred constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should it be prohibited by law.

We believe that the concept of “defamation of religions” puts in danger the very openness and tolerance that allows people of different faiths to co-exist and to practise their faith without fear. It risks changing the focus of international human rights law from examining how countries promote and protect the right to freedom of expression to censoring what individuals say. If this happened, people might feel unable to speak out against human rights abuses or hold their government to account. It is also inconsistent with the international human rights legal framework which exists to protect individuals and not concepts or specific belief systems.

For this reason the UK, along with our EU Partners and other like-minded countries, voted against the resolution put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Conference at the 64th session of the UN General Assembly on Combating Defamation of Religions.

(Hat tip: The New Humanist)

Frightened gallery rejects Westergaard charity painting

A Danish art auctioneer has rejected a painting by Kurt Westergaard which was to be auctioned to fund the relief effort in Haiti. had called for submissions for various celebrities for their charity campaign, but Westergaard’s innocuous painting was deemed too risky, simply because it was by him.

Spokesperson Mette Jessen:

We must recognise that the terror threat is still of such a character that we can’t predict the consequences of a sale. We value the safety of our employees quite highly, which is why an eventual risk assessment was used in our consideration.

The craven decision was condemned by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen:

‘I won’t dictate which auction house sells what and who should cut someone’s hair but I want to warn against the stigmatisation it creates.

He added that people should not live their lives “in the shadow of fear.”

Fortunately a more principled gallery has stepped in and accepted Westergaard’s watercolour. Galleri Draupner, which has previously exhibited his work, are inviting bids on their website.

The current high bid stands at $22,000.

UPDATE: (21 Jan, 12:15) Latest bid: $75,000.

Here is the highly dangerous painting:

Motoons republished throughout Europe

The recent attempt on Motoon creator Kurt Westergaard’s life by an axe-wielding Islamaniac has hit the headlines all over the world – with several newspapers even daring to publish the controversial cartoon which prompted Danish imams to stoke up the outrage in the first place.

Motoons: The page from Jan 8 Aftenposten (left), and murder-attempt victim Kurt Westergaard

Norway’s Aftenposten (link to Googlish translation) is one of them. It lists the countries in which other newspapers have chosen to illustrate the story with the relevant drawing. They include Portugal, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Suriname.

Aftenposten editor Hilde Haugsgjerd has no doubts about showing the cartoons:

we think it is natural and appropriate to republish the artistic and journalistic work which probably prompted this violent action.

UPDATE: Add Norway’s Dagbladet to the list. In a leading article they create their own version of Westergaard’s “Turbomb” as well as reprinting a facsimile of the original Jyllands-Posten page with all 12 Motoons.

UPDATE: (Jan 10) Pakistan’s Foreign Office has predictably condemned the reprinting of the cartoons by Aftenposten, urging the Norwegian government to “ensure that the people who committed this blasphemous act were appropriately reprimanded.”

UPDATE: (Jan 15) The Iranian goverment, that paragon of virtue and purity, has now joined Pakistan in condemnation of Norway.

You cannot use the excuse of freedom of expression to justify insulting the beliefs of 1.5 billion Muslim.

Can. Do.

Norwegian Muslims to demonstrate in support of Westergaard

Shakil Rehman: (Photo by Jan Petter Lynau)

Heartening news from Norway, where a group of liberal Muslims is calling on the Islamic Council of Norway to demonstrate in support of the Motoon artist Kurt Westergaard.

Shakil Rehman of the liberal Muslim network LIM (Equality, integration, multiculturalism) told the Klassekampen newspaper:

It wasn’t a mistake that the caricatures of Muhammed were printed, and in any case it doesn’t justify violence. Muslims have just a great interest in protecting freedom of expression as all others. Therefore Muslims should also support Kurt Westergaard.

Rehman has called on the Islamic Council to support the demo, but will organise the event himself if they do not.

I’m afraid they won’t rise to the challenge, because they don’t want to lose face in the Muslim world. But if they support freedom of speech, they should also be able to show that they mean it in practice.

Muhammed didn’t want to be depicted because he didn’t want to be worshipped like an idol. When Muslism think the prophet is insulted by being depicted, then they make him into precisely such an idol. Therefore there shouldn’t be any problem to make a caricature of him. I will go so far to say that Muslim leaders are unqualified

He is joined by Norweigan-Somali SV politician Hamsa Mohamed who was originally against the Motoons:

For me it’s completely fine now. I don’t respond as vigorously as before. Afterward I saw that people responded unnecessarily vigorously from the Muslim side. Caricatures are drawn all over the world.

Many say that the Prophet himself had a lot of tolerance, but that it was his followers who did the opposite of what the Prophet stood for. I agree with the interpretations. Many Somalis I speak to are discussing this now, and think that the reaction to the caricatures was an over-reaction.

Good luck to them. Moderate Muslim voices such as these are woefully under-reported.

Lars Vilks gets a threat too

Down boy! One of the Lars Vilks Modog toons

Swedish artist Lars Vilks is the latest cartoonist to receive a threat from jihad group al-Shabaab (“The Lads”).

The phlegmatic creator of the Modog series of cartoons got a couple phone calls from someone claiming to represent the Somalian Islamothugs. Vilks told his local newspaper:

The man, who spoke accented Swedish, asked me if I knew about what happened in Denmark and to the artist Kurt Westergaard. I said I certainly did.

The man then explained that they were out after more and that they would soon come for me. I told them they were welcome.

Oops, they did it again


We are tired of pointing out how ironic it is that these morons react with violence at any suggestion that their religion is violent, so here instead is a nice poem by The Digital Cuttlefish, written especially for this occasion:

Danish Cartoonist: 1–Muhammad: 0
It must, at times, be really hard
To be cartoonist Westergaard*.
To be a controversial Dane,
Targeted by religious insane.
Trying to live their normal life,
A normal man and normal wife,
But with a price put on his head—
A million bucks to see him dead.

His drawing was a mortal sin
(To those who need a thicker skin):
The Prophet (praise be unto him)
Portrayed in features rather grim,
With bomb in turban, fuse alight,
Offensive to a Muslim’s sight!
Since such an insult could not stand,
“The man must die.” the cold command.

Islam’s Qur’an, the central text,
Has poor cartoonists quite perplexed—
It calls for peace, or that’s the claim,
While breeding martyrs in its name.
But should one choose to illustrate
This problem, well, we know the fate:
The peaceful clerics draw a breath
And send the artist to his death.

Kurt Westergaard is still alive
His freedom, also, will survive—
He will not bow to terrorists
Although his name is on their lists;
He chooses still, by all accords,
To set his pen against their swords
To freely live, as best he can—
So, fuck Muhammad—Kurt’s the man!

*I have been corrected; my pronunciation of Westergaard is incorrect (thanks for nothing, ITN News!) My apologies!

UPDATE: If that poem cheered you up, this will depress you. It’s the fair and balanced BBC claiming that Westergaard’s cartoon “sparked” outrage (in fact it only “sparked” a couple of imams to stoke outrage) and helpfully pointing out that “some independent religious scholars argue the cartoonists were wrong to offend Muslims and say the drawings made dialogue impossible.” (Thanks to Ophelia B in the comments)

Anti blasphemy law campaign begins in Ireland

Ireland’s preposterous blasphemy law came into effect on Jan 1 this year, and Atheist Ireland lost no time in challenging it with a list of 25 blasphemous quotes.

It’s a decent collection, which will cause varying degrees of offence to many religious types – mainly Christians, in fact, although Jews, Muslims and Buddhists are not spared. Particularly effective is the way opposing religions are shown to be mutually blaspheming.

However, if the aim is to provoke a prosecution under the new law so that it can be challenged in the courts (and probably defeated under the European Convention of Human Rights), it seems unlikely than any religious organisation would be stupid enough to rise to the bait. This in turn raises the question of whether Atheist Ireland will be prepared to push a little bit harder to achieve the desired result.

As you can see, they have left themselves plenty of room:

List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland

1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.

5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”

6. Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities – how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”

7. James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

8. Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

9. Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”

10. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”

11. Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”

12. Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

17. Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.

18. Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”

19. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”

20. Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”

21. Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing-absolutely nothing-in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”

22. PZ Myers, on the Roman Catholic communion host, 2008: “You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel.”

23. Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”

24. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.

25. Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.

Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

UPDATE: (Jan 4) (Sunday Times) A garda source confirms that there will be an investigation as to whether the quotes break the new law.