Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Namazie

December 2, 2015 • 8:20 am

The email accompanying today’s link to the new Jesus and Mo strip said this:

Today’s comic was spurred by Maryam Namazie’s trending twitter tag #exmuslimbecause, and the backlash it has received.

According to the BBC, that hashtag was started by the British Council of Ex-Muslims (Namazie is their spokesperson) to collect statements by Muslim “apostates” about why they’d left the faith. Apparently the site has garnered over 100,000 tw**ts in the last two weeks. The report adds, “But many Muslims are taking issue, saying that the hashtag is “hateful,” and being used as an excuse for Muslim-bashing at a time of increasing fear of Islamophobia.

Here’ are two samples of tw**ts:

https://twitter.com/Mookers/status/670746655973601280

This shows graphically how much many Muslims resent criticism of their religion, to the point that they regard statements of why people left their faith as “hateful.” People who throw around those words are odious, and we must not cower in fear of their possibly violent reprisals, nor must we accommodate them—as much of the Left is doing—by conflating criticism of Islam with hatred of individual Muslims: “Muslimophobia.” When are these people, Muslims and liberals alike, going to grasp the simple point that criticizing the tenets of a religion is different from “Muslim-bashing”? Actually, I suspect many of them already know that distinction, but simply use the terms “Islamophobe” and “Muslim-bashing” as a way to silence their critics, who they know are sensitive to accusations of bigotry.

As further testimony to the hair-trigger offense culture of many Muslims, you may know that this week Namazie spoke at Goldsmiths College of the University of London, a place that’s the Mecca of British student “offense culture.” As LondonStudent reports, her topic was ‘Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS’, and the talk was was sponsored by Goldsmiths’ Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society. That’s a sure recipe for pushback, and sure enough, Namazie got it (my emphasis):

Namazie wrote after the event: “After my talk began, Isoc “brothers” started coming into the room, repeatedly banging the door, falling on the floor, heckling me, playing on their phones, shouting out, and creating a climate of intimidation in order to try and prevent me from speaking.

“I continued speaking as loudly as I could. They repeatedly walked back and forth in front of me. In the midst of my talk, one of the Isoc Islamists switched off my PowerPoint and left. The University security had to intervene and remain in the room as I continued my talk.

“Eventually the thug who had switched off my PowerPoint returned and continued his harassments. At this point, I stood my ground, screamed loudly and continued insisting that he be removed even when the security said he should stay because he was a student.” [JAC: You don’t have a right to remain at a talk if you’re disrupting it, even if you’re a student. What was security thinking?]

A student, during yesterday’s lecture, moved to turn off the main screen when Namazie showed a cartoon from the series Jesus and Mo.

Prior to yesterday’s event, Goldsmiths’ Islamic Society (Isoc) released a statement saying that it “[expressed] deep concern regarding Goldsmiths Atheist, secularist and humanist society with renounced [sic?] Islamophobe Maryam Namazie”.

. . . [Namazie] also told London Student: This very group which absurdly speaks of “safe spaces” has in the past invited Hamza Tzortzis of IERA which says beheading of apostates is painless and Moazem Begg of Cage Prisoners that advocates “defensive jihad”.

Such is the inevitable response of Muslim students in the West when someone like Namazie, who is incredibly brave, tries to discuss the inequities and perfidies of the faith she used to have. Apparently that criticism makes her an “Islamophobe.”

I have no tolerance for the protestors’ behavior, which should not only be stopped, but opposed and mocked at every opportunity. Muslims of course have every right to demonstrate peacefully when they are offended, but not to disrupt an invited speaker or issue death threats (yes, Namazie got those, too). And perhaps they might consider that while their disruptive and sometimes violent response to criticism of Islam may have temporarily cowed the Left, in the end will make the hair-trigger Muslims look petulant and ridiculous.

But I digress; here’s today’s Jesus and Mo:

2015-12-02

68 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Namazie

  1. 100K tw**ts, but are there any estimates of the number of ex-Muslims in the UK?

    Is there any cause for hope?

  2. What is it about Islam that the faith of its adherents can’t even handle a bit of questioning? Is it so weak that they fear just hearing someone speak against it will make people doubt it? It seems to me that the level of faith of Muslims in general must be greatly doubted by their leaders given their reaction to the slightest criticism.

    I guess that’s what happens when you claim perfection in an imperfect world.

    1. My guess is that the justification would be based on denial. I.e., the tweets are not coming from real ex-muslims, but westerners making up stories to demean the faith. If true, this would fit the description hateful speech. But of course we have no reason to believe its true.

      Fully agree with JAC about the protestors and IMO the university is being raging hypocrites/has a laugh-out-loud-its-so-bad double standard. If they really believe what they’re shoveling, let’s see them allow student protestors to act the same way the next time the Uni President gives a talk.

      1. I agree too about the behaviour at Namazie’s talk. And perhaps I’m oversensitive to the issue, but it seems to me to be women who are treated worse than men in these situations. Of course, they’re failing to meet the standard of female modesty many Muslims require of women.

        And even if a lot of the tweets are coming from non-Muslims, they’re still pointing out actual situations that occur within Islam that are undeniably horrible or just plain stupid.

        If your religion requires you to choose it above your family, it’s a problem.

        1. I don’t think you’re being oversensitive. I think its practically guaranteed that you’re right about how the protestors themselves would’ve acted (i.e., they wouldn’t have treated a male speaker saying the same things with as much disrespect). I’m less sure about whether Uni staff would’ve intervened more or earlier to help a male speaker. We should probably be charitable and not impugn them, but at the same time, I think its fairly reasonable to suspect that they would’ve shown a double standard too.

          1. At our university I know that the campus security are trained and advised on removing students for being disruptive in class. This is a deeply ensconced feature of university policy, and one would think that it is applied on other campuses. I do not see why this situation should be any different.

            1. It shouldn’t be, and I bet it isn’t different at most U. London talks. Thus my reference to the University having a double standard; one standard for disruptions during Namazie’s talk and talks like it, and an entirely different standard for what behavior will be allowed at all other talks.

              1. It’s possible security staffs have special instructions for Islamic protestors, fearing threats of retaliation/terrorism.

              2. “It’s possible security staffs have special instructions for Islamic protestors, fearing threats of retaliation/terrorism.”

                Or just being accused of Islamophobia, or insensitivity. I’m sure anyone working security would think twice before ejecting a Muslim in certain circumstances given the potential ramifications, and that’s bound to result in double standards. Double standards that probably also apply to minorities, the handicapped, or the elderly.

    2. Jerry quoted some example tw**ts, but I’d be curious to see what the protesters would select.

      My guess is that yes, they’d probably be able to cherry pick some truly bad Muslim-bashing to bolster their case. But I don’t think that negates the honest intent or value of #exmuslimbecause — partly because it won’t be representative, and partly because it shouldn’t matter anyway.

      1. Any hashtag like that is bound to get people abusing it, providing fodder for critics. Nevertheless there will be many genuine tweets, and some that aren’t genuine will still highlight genuine situations e.g. a tweet from someone saying they resented the idea that wearing a hijab determined whether she was a good Muslim might be fake, but it is something many former Muslims have expressed.

    3. I think this is not unique to Islam in the context of all of human history, but in the present it sure seems out of place, at least in contrast to most modern, “western” societies. But the world is a much smaller place these days. Cultures can’t hide from each other anymore.

      I agree with what has been said so many times, that Islam is in many important respects as it was in the 12th or 13th century. And though I think the religion of Islam is the major aspect of the culture of its adherents there are often also other aspects of these cultures that are relatively unchanged from ancient times.

      1. It might also arise from the sense of exceptionalism that Islam fosters. It is, after all, the perfect religion, God’s final gift to humanity, as conveyed by His Messenger, Mohamed. A lot of Muslims appear to be baffled by the idea that its perfection is not immediately obvious to anyone who hears the message.

        1. Part of Islamic belief is, hilariously, that all babies are born Muslim but some leave the faith early due to family. So when an adult converts to Islam they are actually “reverting”. Convenient.

          1. “Part of Islamic belief is, hilariously, that all babies are born Muslim but some leave the faith early due to family.”

            If that’s true wouldn’t it make all non-Muslims apostates?

      2. Islam might have been better in the 12th century. That was their golden age. Back then, they had a reputation for more tolerance then Christians during the same period. In fact, some people thing the stifling of free thought was one of the causes of their decline.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age#Stifling_free_thought

        One of my favorite YouTube videos is of a talk given by Neil de Grasse Tyson about “Naming Rights” at the “Beyond Belief” conference. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend searching for it.

        In the past, Islam has existed within a more open, pluralistic, society than is the case today. We can only hope that they find a way to do that again.

        1. Yes, the BB conferences were favorites of mine and I recall Tyson’s Naming Rights talk well.

          The Islamic Golden Age was, no question, a wonderful period of history. Unfortunately it came to a rather abrupt end, historically speaking, in or about the 12th century and most of the descendent societies haven’t found their way back since.

  3. The Barmaid (Peace Be Upon Her) has really knocked Mo’s body-double’s-cartoon-representation’s toupee off with her cutting analysis of why religions in general are terrified of apostates.
    Excuse me for not falling off my chair in astonishment.

    1. I like her description. Islam haz delusions naturally. But they are DOG – Delusions *Of Grandeur*. 😉

  4. “nor must we accommodate them—as much of the Left is doing”

    I thought those people were being characterized as the “regressive left“, which was something I could live with, but as a left-leaning, Democrat, liberal, progressive, etc. I have to protest that I’m not them and they’re not me.

    1. Hey, I was happy when Jerry stopped labeling them as “liberals.” There’s gotta be a term. What would you suggest then?

      1. I’m personally fine with leftist. The folks we’re describing would be considered ‘authoritarian left’ on the two-dimensional political compass, while describing someone as ‘liberal’ would be more associated with what the compass calls libertarian. Its not a perfect fit because the compass associates left/right with purely economic ideology, but I think it captures the gist of the situation: there are those on the left who want to impose leftist ideology by force and controlling what gets viewed by the public, and others on the left who want to see it prevail but not through the limitation of people’s rights to speak out against left-leaning thought. The former are ‘leftists,’ the latter are ‘liberals.’

  5. When it comes to Islam, apologists can play the ‘Little People’ card twice. Once, for the standard “don’t take away their hope, happiness, and identity” — and then again for “don’t be racist towards those who are marginalized by society.”

    The combination (and the fact that yes, sometimes there is a kernel of wisdom behind both pleas) seems to be strong enough to overcome a default preference in favor of human rights, feminism, and free speech. Let’s all be sensitive to victims. But given the status of God and His mandates, attacking religion is always punching up. Particularly, I think, when it’s against Islam.

    My 84 year-old mother is a humanist, but strongly disapproves of blasphemy, “draw Mohammad” contests, and even the comic strip “Jesus and Mo.” Why? It hurts people’s feelings. You should never deliberately try to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    I don’t think the larger picture and issues involved here are likely to break through a lifelong personal habit of being kind. And my guess is that a lot of people see it that way — and are therefore blinded to significant causes and connections between the injured feelings of the Little People and the vainglorious ecstasy of the folks waving around the bloody decapitated heads of the infidel. That, too, is not very kind.

    1. There is certainly something to be said for a lifetime habit of being kind.

      I have two arguments that I use when a kind person argues disapprovingly against negative criticism and ridicule.

      1) Some ideas, some behaviors, are such that not criticizing or ridiculing them would be unethical. Similar to not calling an ambulance when you come across an accident or calling the police when you see someone trying to break into your neighbors house.

      2) When people are unreasonably offended you bear no burden for having offended them. They are the cause of their offense, not you.

      1. I especially like your second point.

        There was a time when I would have been on the side of not hurting people’s feelings, and I still don’t go around deliberately trying to do that, but I’ve also come to realize none of those people ever worried about hurting my feelings.

        For example, who do they think they are, knocking on my door, interrupting me, adding to my physical pain (when I have to get up to answer the door), to tell me I’m going to burn in a lake of fire for not sharing their fantasy? What kind of bizarre, entitled behaviour is that anyway?

        1. I arrived at the same conclusion without any disability (I agree your case is stronger). I resent the interruptions so much I simply cut them off as soon as I realize who they are, with an “I’m not interested, I’m atheist,” and close the door no matter whether they’re talking (they usually are) or not.

          1. I live in a very small town. I know who they are as soon as I open the door. Igive them a look of sort of mingled disgust and dismay, which leaves them a bit flabbergasted, and before they’ve recovered from that I’ve shut the door in their faces.

            One put his head in the door one day when it was open. I told him I wasn’t interested, and he wanted to leave his pamphlet and came in to put it on my sofa! I yelled at him four times (started off normal voice but got louder and more firm) that I wasn’t interested and not to leave them before he desisted. I got up, which takes bloody ages, and yelled at him across my front yard that I thought people like him were evil. He looked a bit scared – probably thought his soul was in danger.

            I realized after he left that he was half of the couple that had bought my mother’s house, and I’d been chatting to him in the street a few months earlier. So the poor bloke probably had to shell out for an exorcism too, as I stayed with her for a month when I first moved here (which is the sort of thing everyone knows).

            1. Ah, I can take a lesson from you! 😀

              I can’t believe someone entered your house without your permission. Can’t you have someone like that arrested for trespassing?!

              1. It was after that I investigated taking out a protection order to stop the SDAs and JWs coming on my property (the Mormons don’t worry me so much because they’re scrupulously polite and don’t send children and very elderly people). They’re not what the law was designed for, and it seemed to me it couldn’t be used that way. I’ve never talked to a lawyer about whether there is a way to do it. I quite like the idea of following this through, but it’s beyond my means.

              2. Bummer! Well, next time try to film them with your phone or something and then take it to a lawyer!

            2. Whoa, talk about violating boundaries! Getting a protection order might be a wise idea. I’ve never had that kind of experience with door-to-door proselytizers. I see your point.

              I also live in a small town, but the default here in Wisconsin seems to be “we’re a very polite people.” If I tell them I’m busy they smile and leave. If I tell them I’m an atheist and not interested they look a bit startled, smile, and leave. But MY default is to tell them I’m atheist, smile, and ask if I can ask them some questions. They usually smile and say yes. I smile, they smile, and when they eventually leave we all smile big and thank each other for the interesting discussion.

              I’ve never had anyone come back. Come to think of it, the fresh meat new proselytizers aren’t coming around any more either — except to occasionally leave a pamphlet or something stuck in the screen door. I love those things, they’re entertaining.

              1. About thirty years ago I lived in a house on a farm. A couple of days after I koved in two people came to see me, who introduced themselves as locals welcoming me to the district. I acted accordingly. They were inside, looking around the living areas of the house, making friendly comments. I was all ready to offer them tea or coffee etc when their real SDA agenda became obvious. I asked them to leave. I was so angry they’d taken advantage of normal rural behaviour to invade my home. Completely outrageous and duplicitous as far as I’m concerned.

                As I said though,the Mormons are never like that. They’re always USians. It’s my fellow Kiwis who are the space invaders.

              2. I don’t like to mention them too often – we need the tourist dollars of wealthy Americans! 🙂

        2. It seems to me that if darelle’s second point is applied to your example you wouldn’t be telling the proselytizers to go away, gently or not. Instead, it would involve accepting their request to have a religious discussion and then (when you start winning the argument) listening to them complain that you’re mean because you’re trying to take away their faith. Hey, they WANTED to have a discussion on this very issue with someone who didn’t agree with them. Their problem then if they don’t like what they got.

          Same thing with a secular example. Someone who phones you for a political survey and gets offended at your answers is in a different category than someone who phones you for a political survey and gets offended because you tell them not to bother you and slam down the receiver.

          I’m not saying that your example isn’t a good illustration for a different “justified incivility” situation, just that I’m not sure it’s relevant for talking about ridicule and criticism directed on topic.

          1. My later example wasn’t meant as an illustration, I was just saying I liked the point, then going off on a tangent. I agree with your points here too.

              1. Ha ha! You’d be welcome anytime, as long as that comment isn’t indicative of a foot fetish! 😉

      2. I like those, Darrelle. I would never challenge a particular person’s faith except under similar circumstances. Difference of opinion are no excuse to be rude. On the other hand, I wouldn’t restrain myself from critical speech in general on the chance that a bystander might be hurt.

  6. When are … Muslims and liberals … going to grasp the simple point that criticizing the tenets of a religion is different from “Muslim-bashing”?

    That is, of course, an entirely valid point.

    Let us not overlook, however, that the reason Islam-criticism is confused for Muslim-bashing by some on the Left is that the two are so often conflated by those on the Right, where criticism of Islam (usually in the form of quotes plucked from the Qur’an) goes hand-in-glove with rampant anti-Muslim bigotry, including calls to curtail Muslim immigration and to forestall Muslim-Americans from holding public office.

    1. I think that one of the reasons the Religious Right tend to equate attacking a religion with bashing their adherents is that, in their religion, that’s often what you DO. When there’s a real difference of opinion about God it’s not framed as honest error in drawing a conclusion. Instead, people are seen as choosing to believe God or follow Satan. Theology sidesteps reason and goes right to character and disposition in a war between divine truth and secular (or Satanic) lies. Ultimately, if you’re wrong, it’s because you’re evil.

      I’m not at all surprised that this assumption is going to turn into something very ugly when it gets to politics.

    2. Ken’s point is excellent and, in my opinion, really gets to the root of the issue with Regressive Leftists. They seem to view everything in starkly black and white terms. They position themselves as so diametrically opposed to their “enemies” (Republicans, conservatives, etc.) and have convinced themselves that they are 100% righteous that any dissent or contrary opinion is automatically considered bad, sinister or hateful (“It’s gross! It’s racist!”). No discussion needed. No nuance allowed. Yes, the Right is also guilty of this at nearly every turn.

      It’s the justification these Regressives use to continually bash Sam Harris when he makes clearly rational and logical statements that don’t fit their approved language model. Of course, they usually go out of their way to intentionally distort and misrepresent Sam’s words in order to paint him as an enemy.

      The Regressives seem so deathly afraid of being, in any way, even remotely viewed as unsympathetic figures that they’re willing to discard everything, even logic, if it doesn’t fit their narrative.

  7. One can clearly see the same mindset and behavior from the followers of Donald Trump and their sometimes violent behavior towards protesters. The Trumpists have “free speech” but clearly the anti-Trumpists have to “move on.” The reactions of christians at a town meeting during which a muslim was going to propose some remodeling to an existing mosque had to be canceled because the animosity of the christians was on the verge of violence. As the one christian shouted, “All muslims are terrorists.” Apparently this is the belief of the Iowa governor (Branstad) in attempting to deny any settlement of Syrian women and children in Iowa.

  8. I went to art school (which, let’s face it, not a lot of people consider to be real school), and interrupting any speaker in a manner similar to how Namazie was interrupted would not have been tolerated. Any students behaving in that manner would have been removed. Turning off a presentation or trying to turn off a screen or projector would have had you thrown out on your ass the second you were noticed.

  9. And it’s not only Islamic parents who disown their children for being apostates. I knew someone from a Mormon family who was kicked out of the house at 17 because his dad overheard him talking about taking LSD the weekend before. I don’t have kids, so don’t understand the bond in any emotional capacity, but I do find this behavior remarkable for those deluded by their faith.

    Another anecdote: my dad was the head of his church board for many years. I stopped believing in high school and stopped going to church, but after the church (evangelical) found out I smoked pot, my dad was kicked off the board. How stupid is that? I wasn’t even a member of the church. The excuse was that having a child that didn’t believe was not the sort of values a “true” xtian would maintain. I wonder if they would have let him stay in the position if he told them he kicked me out of the house.

  10. So much easier to “move on” when the people who say that aren’t also saying you should be killed on general principles.

  11. “I suspect many of them already know that distinction, but simply use the terms “Islamophobe” and “Muslim-bashing” as a way to silence their critics, who they know are sensitive to accusations of bigotry.”

    Good point, it’s the reasonable nuanced critics who find such labels problematic. If you truly believe all Muslims secretly want to kill you then people who call you an Islamophobe can be dismissed as idiots who are blind to reality.

  12. youtu.be/nA3xN5ptZXM

    – I am sure that the moderate muslims featured in the video will not take too kindly to being interrupted. And security would be more proactive in stopping any hecklers.

  13. I like your distinction between the religion and its adherents that many (eg. Maajid Nawaz) are trying to add to the lexicon.

    I am an Islamophobe.
    I am not a Muslimophobe (unless your behavior as an Islamophile threatens my welfare or my Constitutional rights).

  14. My Bill Maher-type “New Rule” —
    All those atheists who gripe about Dawkins et al have to stop doing that and start supporting Maryam Namazie. She is one *courageous* individual.

    (No offense to Dawkins et al — they are already busy supporting her work.)

    1. What’s the bet that the next batch of articles relating to criticism of Islam by atheists are about the “bigotry” of Dawkins et al.?

      Fighting the good fight for liberal principles…

  15. This is a good test of the left’s adherence to liberal principles. What would the left’s reaction be if this was an ex fundamentalist Christian and the tactic of intimidation was done by members of the Church? I think we’d see a much greater willingness to stand up against such behaviour – thus the lack of doing so in this case is an appalling act of hypocrisy.

  16. I don’t encounter much of Islamic anything in my day-to-day life, so these posts are helpful to me.

    Offense culture is alive and well at the University of Washington but seems to be most centered on gender and race issues. I haven’t heard the bioethics faculty bring up Isalm yet. Give them time…

  17. Dear Dr. Coyne, I’d like to bring to your attention a discussion taking place in the site of WAIS, at waisworld.org, where some people are arguing about the dangers of Islam and others try to sweep this under the rag. Thank you for your wonderful posts that bring some bright light into my daily routine. All the best, Luciano Dondero

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