Iran will build a bomb no matter what

December 2, 2021 • 9:15 am

If you think that Iran, under its present theocracy, is willing to halt the production of nuclear warheads and missiles, then you are deluded. In fact, even Tom Friedman in the NYT is deluded in his column asserting that “Trump’s Iran policy has become a disaster for the U.S. and Israel.”  Why? Because, according to Friedman:

Up until Trump walked out of the Iran deal negotiated by President Barack Obama — even though international inspectors said Iran was still adhering to it — Iran’s breakout time to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon was one year, and Iran had agreed to maintain that buffer for 15 years. Now it’s a matter of weeks. It would still take Iran a year and half or two years to manufacture a deliverable warhead, U.S. officials believe. But that is cold comfort.

Yes, of course Iran has promised to slow down its production of nuclear material for warheads, but has it really done that? What about those UN inspections?

They are a joke. The agreement forged by Obama stipulates that inspectors are forbidden to inspect military sites. Well, where do you think production of Iran’s warheads and missiles is taking place? And when you read about how the inspections are conducted: very lax, with required advance warning (this should not be given) and soil samples provided by Iran, you wonder how the inspectors can be duped so easily.

And don’t forget that according to the so called “sunset clause” in Obama’s deal, after 2035 Iran would have been absolutely free to develop whatever bomb it wants. 2035 is not as far away as we imagine. But of course Iran has no intention of waiting even that long.

The aims of Iran have been declared explicitly. Here’s one from the spokesperson for Iran’s armed forces (click on screenshot):

A quote:
The spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces, Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, on Saturday urged the total elimination of the Jewish state during an interview with an Iranian regime-controlled media outlet.
“We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter. We want to destroy Zionism in the world,” Shekarchi told the Iranian Students News Agency.
Shekarchi’s genocidal antisemitic remarks come just days before the nuclear talks are set to restart in Vienna Monday on curbing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s illicit nuclear program. The United States and other world powers are seeking to provide Tehran with economic sanctions relief in exchange for temporary restrictions on its atomic program. Israel and other countries believe Iran’s regime seeks to build a nuclear weapons device.

The Iranian general also blasted Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel, terming the diplomacy “intolerable” for Iran’s clerical regime. “Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and other countries considered as Muslims, for us they part of the Zionist regime and this is very important,” said Shekarchi.

But wait! There’s more:

Anybody with a lick of sense knows that the theocracy and its mullahs have an overweening aim: to destroy “Zionism,” by which they mean Israel.  And if you think that Iran will agree to stop cold in its production of fissile material, warheads, and missiles, I would question your credulity. Perhaps Trump had speeded up that process a bit when he withdrew from the nuclear agreement, but I think the withdrawal might have been justified. It reduced the contributions of the mullahs to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, and the economic pressure made the Iranian public even more dissatisifed with the mullahs. That’s why Iran is so desperate to get back to the negotiating table and get the sanctions lifted, as well as trying to exact a patronizing promise from the U.S. and EU that they will never again impose sanctions. Read about the demonstrations against the government of Iran, in which soldiers just shoot the demonstrators.


And insofar as Biden and the EU renegotiate a deal with Iran in which it promises to slow down (but not stop) production of nuclear weapons, they are also dupes. Everyone knows that the production of those weapons is inevitable. At best we can buy some time, but not very much.

So what can be done? Israel can be destroyed by one or two nuclear missiles fired from Iran, and there will be no warning and little possibility of retaliating against such a large country.

Israel has two choices, neither of them palatable. It can bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, but that is very likely to start a war—a war that nobody wants, including Israel itself, the U.S. and the EU. Or Israel can do nothing, or do smaller acts of sabotage like assassinating Iranian nuclear experts, which it has done. That will have little effect, and eventually Iran will aim its missiles at Israel.

The only viable solution I can see is the overthrow of the Iranian theocracy and institution of a secular government in there. We cannot do that, of course: it is up to the Iranian people. But those people are getting increasingly fed up with the theocracy and the economic degeneration of the country. And many are sick of the constant intrusion of fundamentalist Islam into their lives. You may have read about anti-regime demonstrations all over Iran, especially in Isfahan. Read Masih Alinejad’s Twitter feed for daily documentation. Persistent sanctions, with U.S. support of the demonstrators and denunciation of Iran’s human-rights violations (something the Iranians also want to negotiate away), will hearten them.

Alternatively, we can just let Iran develop its armed missiles and accept it into the community of the Nuclear Abled along with the U.S., UK, Russia, and China (with North Korea on the way). But Iran is not like North Korea, and I have no confidence that they won’t use their missiles. Israel is not the EU or the US, and has limited power to defend itself against a nuclear attack.

We can’t get rid of the mullahs, but the only way forward is to keep up with the sanctions to leverage a change of regime.  In this sense I have to say that Trump’s actions made more sense than Obama’s and now Biden’s (Need I say that I despise Trump and am elated that he’s gone? But I cannot claim that every single thing his administration did was injurious. The revision of Title IX under DeVos was another example.)

Bari Weiss in conversation with Masih Alinejad

July 21, 2021 • 10:45 am

For a long time I’ve been admiring and touting the work of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American women’s rights activist (and general political activist) as well as a journalist. She’s absolutely fearless, even though she was arrested in Iran for agitating against the government.  She’s particularly opposed to head and body coverings, and here’s a video she made 2016 after the “feminist government of Sweden” all wore hijabs when they visited Iran (see my post here). She calls them out for their hypocrisy.

Alinejad is passionate and eloquent. She also founded the My Stealthy Freedom movement and Facebook page, in which Iranian women take off their hijabs (a criminal offense) to show their opposition to the misogyny of Iran’s theocratic government. She also founded the “White Wednesdays” movement, in which Iranian women wear white on that day to protest repression by the government. Remember, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many Iranian women dressed as they pleased (see my post from 2016), and when the theocracy began and imposed a dress code, there were huge protests by the women of Iran.

To no avail, alas. Iran now has morality police who enforce the dress code, and women showing more hair than the government likes are liable to be arrested, beaten, or called out by the more religious citizens of the country.  In forty years, Iran has backtracked from a modern state to a medieval theocracy, and Alinejad is one of those few people whose life is devoted to pointing that out. She fled Iran in 2009, lived in Britain for a while, and is now a US citizen broadcasting for the Voice of America’s Persian network.

I bring this up because recently a plot was unveiled, involving four Iranian citizens and one American, to lure her out of the country (à la Jamal Khashoggi), kidnap her, and then smuggle her back into Iran. You know what would have happened to her then: certain death. Fortunately, the plot was discovered in advance by the FBI, the American was arrested, and the four Iranians were indicted. But in the eight months since she was informed of the plot, she and her family have had to live in a series of safe houses, moving from time to time so Iran doesn’t discover where she is. This is all, of course, meant to silence critics of the government.

Here’s her thank-you to the FBI:

Since then, Alinejad and her cause have received increasing attention (the “progressive” Western Left tends to ignore the oppression of women by Islamic countries of the Middle East). Here’s a tweet by Biden’s Secretary of State, who just met with her.

And all this is by way of informing you that this evening, at 5 p.m. Pacific time, Alinejad will be having a conversation with Bari Weiss. It’s for subscribers to Weiss’s site only, and I’m one, but of course I can’t reveal the Zoom link for the conversation. But I’m sure it’s going to be a great exchange. Here’s Bari’s announcement (click on screenshot; I think this note is free):

Weiss’s words (her emphases):

Feminists don’t fare well in the Islamic Republic. About a decade ago, Masih fled the country, but she continued to lead the movement against Iran’s gender apartheid from exile. In 2014 she started the online movement My Stealthy Freedom, which has inspired countless Iranian women defy the regime by talking off their hijabs in public. These days, the journalist has more than five million followers on Instagram, a show on Voice of America, and a Twitter account devoted to elevating Iran’s pro-democracy movement.

It’s no wonder that the Ayatollahs are terrified of her.

In 2018, Masih’s sister was forced to denounce her on state television. In 2019, her brother Ali was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for the crimes of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.” In a video recorded and released just before his arrest Ali told his sister: “The moment I’m arrested, speak out.” He insisted: “Be strong and do your work. You are doing the right thing.”

. . . .I am thrilled to announce that on Wednesday evening at 5 PM PST I will be hosting a subscriber-only event with this courageous woman.

We’ll discuss the plot against her, the Biden administration’s policy toward Iran, where she summons the strength to risk her life for what is right, and any other questions you’d like to ask. Please join us.

All subscribers will receive an email with the link to the event on Wednesday morning. So if you haven’t already subscribed, click here.

It’s $50 a year, and it’s interviews like this that make it worth it. You can even ask Masih questions.

Fatah: London’s Big Ben was stolen from Palestine!

January 25, 2021 • 9:00 am

How about a little levity to start the week? Inadvertent levity, that is, for the perpetrator of this “fake news”, Fatah, is the ruling party in the West Bank, and the levity is meant to be propaganda. Fatah is the biggest of the organizations/political parties under the aegis of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Mahmoud Abbas is the head of both Fatah, the PLO and, of course, president of Palestinian Authority.

If you pay attention to the “news” put out by various Palestinian state media, of which Fatah is one, you’ll find all kinds of amusement amidst the lies. For example, Fatah regularly asserts that Mossad, the main organ of Israeli intelligence, trains animals to attack Palestinians and others. These include rats trained to bite Arabs in Jerusalem, wild pigs trained to destroy Palestinian fields, and sharks trained to attack European tourists in Egypt to damage the Egyptian tourist industry. There’s even a Wikipedia page on this issue called “Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.” It’s hilarious (check out the references).

Fatah also argued that Jews poison their wells, used the disaster in Haiti to harvest human organs for transplantation into rich Jews, and that Jewish archaeologists plant fake “proof” of ancient Jewish presence in the Holy Land.

The thing is (is) that many Palestinians and Arabs believe this stuff. The latest and perhaps biggest whopper is the one below, again promulgated by Fatah: the British stole Big Ben from the British Mandate of Palestine (the area where Jews and Arabs lived after the Ottoman Empire collapsed), and took Big Ben to London, where it now chimes daily.

If you ask how people can believe this guff, well, ask yourself why so many Americans believe in QAnon.? The power of confirmation bias is strong.

Here’s a Palestinian woman who firmly believes the Purloined Big Ben Theory. If you speak Arabic, feel free to translate some of it.


And here’s the article from the official Fatah news showing the supposedly stolen clock in situ in the 1920s (click on the screenshots to go to the site):

And the entirety of their article. Note the claim that Big Ben was taken to the British Museum!

Well, it takes about ten seconds of Googling to dispel this fiction. According to Wikipedia, the clock tower in England (it’s the bell itself that’s formally known as “Big Ben,” not the whole clock or the tower) was completed in 1859, well before the supposed theft.  And the clock’s movement was finished in 1854, five years before it was put into the tower.

Of course, I suppose you could always claim that Wikipedia was a Jewish conspiracy. . .

We can be thankful that the New York Times hasn’t gone this far—yet.


h/t: Malgorzata

Another critic writes in touting the scientific rationality of Islam and decrying the moral failures of atheism

December 15, 2020 • 9:00 am

Since Yahoo! News reprinted my essay from The Conversation arguing that science and religion are incompatible, I’ve been getting lots of emails, nearly all from people who disagree with me. The accommodationists are, of course, religionists, and don’t like to hear that their faith puts them at odds with science. Many of them, like the reader below, also takes atheism to task. I’ve redacted this writer’s name because, unlike the Vatican Vice Astronomer, I don’t think the name is relevant.

This correspondent tries to make two points. First, Islam is not nearly as strongly at odds with science as is Christianity. Second, that religion gives us a moral framework but atheism doesn’t.  Both points are wrong, and I’ll respond to each separately.  The quotes the writer gives within his/her email are put in italics and quotation marks, for the “extra indent” feature isn’t working right now.

Read and weep:


Thank you for the article Yes, there is a war between science and religion. There are two reasons why I would argue that the article reflects atheism in denial of its own shortcomings. You write

“In the end, it’s irrational to decide what’s true in your daily life using empirical evidence, but then rely on wishful-thinking and ancient superstitions to judge the ‘truths’ undergirding your faith. This leads to a mind (no matter how scientifically renowned) at war with itself, producing the cognitive dissonance that prompts accommodationism. If you decide to have good reasons for holding any beliefs, then you must choose between faith and reason. And as facts become increasingly important for the welfare of our species and our planet, people should see faith for what it is: not a virtue but a defect.”

Here you are clearly extrapolating your own experiences with Christian apologists to followers of other religions: in particular Islam. I’d argue that Muslims have no need for “wishful-thinking and ancient superstitions” when forming a judgement about the reliability of their religion. It is common for atheists to  assume that the conflicts between the Bible and scientific evidence (e.g. the descriptions of the Flood, the Exodus or age of the earth) applies equally to the Quran. However, to my knowledge there has been no serious scholarly effort to support this assumption or more generally to show that the Quranic accounts and claims are in conflict with what we have learned through science.

For example, a reading of the Quranic account of the Flood would reveal that it occurred over a short period (a couple of days), the animals preserved were only those required to support a small human settlement and there is no mention of the whole earth being flooded. In regard to the Exodus, the Moses leads a small group of people into the desert, much less in number than the Pharaoh’s pursuing army, so one would not expect to find evidence of over 1 million people roaming the desert for 40 years. In addition, the Quran predicts the preservation of the Pharaoh’s body for future generations. Finally while there is no mention of the Earth’s age, there is a description of the creation of the universe which appears consistent with what we’ve been able to learn through science.

So I think its fair to say that atheists have a lot more work to do to make their case than many are prepared to acknowledge.

The email went on, but let me stop and respond:

As I pointed out in an email to this person, there is a growing literature on the incompatibility of science and Islam.  Here’s how I responded when the person asked for even one piece of literature pointing out an Islamic incompatibility between science and faith.

First, there’s Taner Edis’s book (click on screenshot):

Another book by Pakistani physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy on the stifling of scientific thought and rationality by modern Islam (and how that contrasts with the faith’s more open attitude centuries ago). 


An article from Discover Magazine (click on screenshot:


A quote from the article:

“This tendency [of Muslim accommodationists] to use their knowledge of science to ‘prove’ that the religious interpretations of life are correct is really corrupting,” he tells me. Soltan, who got his doctorate at the University of Northern Illinois, works in a small office that’s pungent with tobacco smoke; journals and newspapers lie stacked on his desk and floor. “Their methodology is bad,” he says. Soltan explains that Islamic scientists start with a conclusion (the Koran says the body has 360 joints) and then work toward proving that conclusion. To reach the necessary answer they will, in this instance, count things that some orthopedists might not call a joint. “They’re sure about everything, about how the universe was created, who created it, and they just need to control nature rather than interpret it,” Soltan adds. “But the driving force behind any scientific pursuit is that the truth is still out there.”

“Researchers who don’t agree with Islamic thinking ‘avoid questions or research agendas’ that could put them in opposition to authorities — thus steering clear of intellectual debate. In other words, if you are a scientist who is not an Islamic extremist, you simply direct your work toward what is useful. Scientists who contradict the Koran ‘would have to keep a low profile.”’When pressed for examples, Soltan does not elaborate.”

I talk about this kind of Islamic confirmation bias in Faith Versus Fact. It’s pervasive and at once annoying and amusing.

I’ve personally encountered Qur’anic opposition to science—and especially evolution—many times, as has Richard Dawkins. It often comes in the form, as Pitock notes, of saying that the Qur’an is remarkably prescient about science, with its human creation myth coincident with the evolutionary scenario. If you think that’s true, just read about the Qur’anic account itself.  Page 105 of Faith versus Fact shows the desperate lengths that some Muslim scientists go to comport science with the Qur’an.

The resistance of Islam to evolution is not, of course, universal, even within Muslim countries. Surprisingly, Iran doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with evolution being taught in its schools, while Iraq, on the other hand, has always had problems teaching evolution, and has dropped it from secondary-school curricula. Turkey, increasingly becoming a theocracy, did the same thing a few years ago.

The problem comes because many Muslims are Qur’anic literalists. Here are two plots from a 2012 Pew Poll: the first on the proportion of people in (mostly African) Muslim-majority countries who think the Qur’an should be read literally, and then the proportion of people in different Muslim-majority countries who accept evolution. Note that countries like Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia were not surveyed.

Then my correspondent goes on about morality:

The second way in which the article highlights atheist denialism an shortcomings, is in failing to tackling the issue of morality. What are the consequences of a world where ‘moral judgements’ are mere ‘value judgements’ to be decided by each individual. Magnas Bradshaw’s From Humanism to Nihilism: The Eclipse of Secular Ethics (CMC Papers, No. 6) addresses this question. One the one hand we have the teachings of New Atheism, such as Richard Dawkins who writes “‘the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pointless indifference’.” and Francis Crick who is even more explicit, “you, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules… ‘‘you’re nothing but a pack of neurons’’.”

On the other hand we have its practitioners, the rationalists, those who take this stuff seriously, such as Ted Bundy, trained lawyer and serial killer, who reasons thus

Then I learned that all moral judgments are ‘value judgments’, that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself – what apparently the Chief Justice couldn’t figure out for himself – that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any ‘reason’ to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring – the strength of character – to throw off its shackles…I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consists in the insupportable ‘value judgment’ that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these ‘others’? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is your life more to you than a hog’s life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasure more for the one than for the other? Surely you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as ‘moral’ or ‘good’ and others as ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’? That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me – after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self

Bundy’s reasoning is impeccable and based on the teachings of atheists. “Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than  any other animal?” or, “Why shouldn’t Trump tear down the institutions supporting U.S. democracy if he wants?”. Care to answer?

Yes, of course I could answer, but would this person listen? Not a snowball’s chance in hell! But wait! There’s more!

Atheism is leaving people with no guidance on how they should conduct themselves, and what they should expect from others. That’s the reality. And logically, that is what one would expect when people do not believe in a soul capable of oppressing itself through its oppression of others or even simply contemplating words of repentance and aspiration such as : “You that turn stones to gold.. change me.”(Rumi). If you want to claim that such notions are the result of “wishful-thinking and ancient superstitions” then first offer the scholarly work that demonstrates that the Quran is indeed incompatible with what we have learned through science, and hence unreliable.

Name redacted

Where to start here? First of all, neither Dawkins nor Crick would deny that there is a morality that can be derived from humanism; Dawkins, as well as his colleagues Dan Dennett and Anthony Grayling, have been quite explicit on this point.  Indeed, unless you’re one of the few “moral objectivists”, even religious morality must come from “value judgements.”  This is the crux of the Euthyphro argument: if you say that God is good, and wouldn’t give us bad moral guidance, you are assuming there are criteria for “good” and “bad” that are independent of God. (Theologians such as William Craig, who adhere to “divine command theory which stipulates that God is the sole determinant of good, are exceptions, and their morality isn’t so hot anyway. Craig doesn’t oppose the many genocides in the Old Testament, since God ordered them.) Even religious moral judgments, then, are almost always based on “value judgments”. But so what? Different judgments have different consequences for society. You can, for example, be a utilitarian, and base your morality on what acts will do the most good or cause the least harm. Other criteria lead to other moralities, but all of them are superior to the “morality” of the Catholic Church or Islam.

Further, there is a long history of writing and philosophy on secular ethics and morality, beginning with the Greeks, extending through Kant and Hume down to Rawls, Russell, and Grayling in modern times. It is not at all true that atheists haven’t grappled with the problem or morality. To use Ted Bundy as a secular arbiter of morality is simply ridiculous!

And, of course, humanistic morality is far superior to religious morality. The latter has given us things like dictates about genital cutting, the oppression of women and gays, the diktat to kill apostates and infidels, the terrorizing of children with thoughts of hell, the abnegation of modern medicine (Christian science and other faith-healing sects), the prohibition of divorce and regulations about how to have sex and when, and the propagandizing of innocent children, who get turned into little Amish people or Orthodox Jews, deprived of opportunity and education—all because of religious morality.

When I reread the email above, I realized that the writer hadn’t really investigated the rich tradition of secular ethics, and was also woefully—and perhaps willfully—ignorant of what many Muslims think about science. I’m not sure why, but I did write him/her a summary of what I’ve said above.

You should feel free yourself to address the writer’s remarks, and I’ll call that person’s attention to this thread tomorrow.

Lagniappe (h/t Peter N.):

The mainstream press “explains” why French Muslims commit terror attacks, including France’s “unusual attachment to secularism”

November 1, 2020 • 9:15 am

Muslims throughout the world are reacting with hostility towards France since Macron cracked down on extreme Islamism in the country. After the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons satirizing Muhammed, and then a Islamic terror attack in Nice that killed three, President Macron is determined to defang extreme Islamism in France. His new plan, aimed at becoming law this year, bars Muslim home-schooling, requires all children to attend state-recognized schools from age three, and calls for more scrutiny of foreign funding of mosques as well as suppressing speech that incites hatred (his plan was formulated before the Nice killings).

In response, much of the Muslim world, but particularly Turkey, has vowed to boycott French products and strike back at France in other ways, including diplomatically. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is particularly incensed, though some of his ire is clearly meant to distract his populace from the tanking Turkish economy and Erdogan’s suppression of free speech and his efforts to return his country to the pre-Atatürk condition of being an officially Muslim country. Erdogan was particularly peeved at the latest Charlie Hebdo cover, below. (Macron also said, at a memorial service for Samuel Paty, that France “will not give up our cartoons”.)

Business Insider explains this somewhat enigmatic cartoon:

The cartoon depicts Erdogan sitting in a T-shirt and underwear, drinking a beer, and lifting up a woman’s hijab to expose her bare backside. [JAC: it’s not a hijab, which is a headscarf, but a chador.]

Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, by most Muslims, and Erdogan has long condemned it.

“Ouuuh! The Prophet!” the speech bubble from Erdogan’s mouth said, suggesting Erdogan was only pretending to be a staunch defender of Islam.

The headline published alongside the cartoon said: “Erdogan: In private, he is very funny!”

This has really ticked off both Erdogan and many Turks. Erdogan had already called for a Turkish boycott of French products, and now his Ministry of Foreign affairs has called for both political and legal action against France.

Now I don’t spend my time reading all the world’s press, but my impression is that they’re spending a lot of space explaining why Muslims are angry at France for its crackdown on extreme Islam, as well as the cartoons, and not so much space decrying the terrorist attacks in France, much less the religious ardor that causes them. One gets the impression from some journalistic pieces, like the one under consideration, that writers are more concerned with explaining why the terrorists felt compelled to attack French civilians than with explaining why Islam inspires such acts of terrorism. (Here’s a particularly egregious example from Politico.)


UPDATE HERE: Reader Ken alerted me to the fact that the Politico article has disappeared, replaced by this editor’s note:

If it didn’t meet their editorial standards, why did they publish it? Well, I managed to find a copy online and have saved it at the Wayback Machine, so you can see the lunacy by clicking here.  I think you should have a look.


The implication of many of these pieces, at least to me, is that “the French sort of had it coming”. That may sound extreme, but given the pro-Muslim stance of the liberal mainstream press, and its failure to strongly decry the attacks—or analyze why Islam, alone among major faiths, inspires such attacks—I can’t help but think that these “explanations” shade into “excuses”. My prediction is that the liberal mainstream media, already strongly Islamophilic (after all, Muslims are seen by the Left as oppressed people of color), will become even more so in the coming years, and it will seep into their straight journalism, as it already has in The New York Times.

The latest report implying that “the French had it coming” is from the Associated Press (AP). As the article below from Tablet notes, the AP has long had a sympathy for Muslims, particularly in Palestine, to the extent of deliberately slanting its journalism in favor of Palestine and against Israel. I’ve mentioned this piece several times before, and since the AP is a major source of news for Americans, with its reports appearing in many newspapers, this is a must-read:

I won’t dwell on the piece above except to say that you need to read it if you have an interest in Western journalism about Palestine and Israel.

The story at hand is the new AP piece below, which has all the earmarks of an excuse. If you asked me why there are so many terror attacks in France, my answer would be that France has both absolutely and relatively more Muslims than any country in Western Europe (8.8%; 5 million), that this is a result of the French having colonized Muslim lands, that Islam encourages separatism and a sense of offense against those seen as “blasphemers,” and that the long-standing French policy of laïcité (secularism or church-state separation), which began with the French Revolution, is seen as a slap at religion, especially by Muslims.

Granted, French colonialism was abhorrent, but it no longer exists, and can’t be a valid reason for killing French citizens. Also, Macron’s measures, which I haven’t studied in detail, may be a bit extreme, but again, that doesn’t justify killing, nor does it justify the press’s concentration on French bad behavior instead of Islam-inspired murder. And I’m not sure how much of the Muslim failure to integrate into French society is due to their own culture rather than to French measures that prevent such integration. As far as I know, the French are eager to integrate all immigrants, but there is surely some bigotry against Muslim immigrants.

But the AP’s article (click n screenshot) sounds like a chastisement of the French for their secularism. To me, it’s more than an explanation: it’s also an excuse.

Here are some excerpts from the story:

So why is France singled out for protests and calls for boycotts across the Muslim world, and so often the target of deadly violence from the extremist margins?

Its brutal colonial past, staunch secular policies and tough-talking president who is seen as insensitive toward the Muslim faith all play a role.

As France steps up security and mourns three people killed in a knife attack at a church on Thursday – the latest of many attributed to Islamic extremists in recent years — here’s a look at some of the reasons the country is under fire.

The reasons:

Failure of integration:

But the country’s efforts to integrate Muslim immigrants have faltered. The official French doctrine of colorblindness is intended to ignore ethnic and religious backgrounds and to have all French citizens seen as equally French. In reality, the ideal often fuels discrimination against those who look, dress or pray differently from the historically Catholic majority, instead of preventing it.

Muslims are disproportionately represented in France’s poorest, most alienated neighborhoods, as well as its prisons. That has bred angry outcasts who see their homeland as sinful and disrespectful toward Islamic traditions, or simply racist against Arab and other immigrants from lands that once enriched the French empire.

Is all of this the fault of the French government, as the article implies?


France maintains a more hands-on role than Britain does in their former colonies, notably via economic and cultural ties — and that’s also visible in how France deploys troops abroad.

French forces intervened in recent years against Islamic extremists in Mali and Syria, both former French holdings. Thousands of French soldiers are now stationed in former colonies in the Sahel region of Africa with the same mission.

A French military presence fuels routine online appeals from IS, Al-Qaida and other extremists for retaliation on French soil, in hopes of forcing France to withdraw its forces.

“Strict secularism” (my emphasis)

Much of the current anger stems from the recent republication by French satirical newspaper weekly Charlie Hebdo of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoon images of Islam’s founder deeply offended many Muslims, who see them as sacrilegious. But the cartoons were originally published in Denmark in 2005, and similar images have been published in other countries that hold freedom of expression dear.

While French officials often say their country is targeted because of its reputation as the cradle of human rights and a rampart of global democracy, what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.

The often-misunderstood concept of French secularism is inscribed in the country’s constitution. It was born in a 1905 law separating church and state that was meant to allow the peaceful coexistence of all religions under a neutral state, instead of a government answering to powerful Roman Catholic clerics. Crucifixes were at one point torn from classroom walls in France amid painful public debate.

A century later, polls suggest France is among the least-religious countries in the world, with a minority attending services regularly. Secularism is broadly supported by those on both left and right.

As the number of Muslim in France grew, the state imposed secular rules on their practices. A 2004 banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious symbols in schools remains divisive, if not shocking to many outside France. A 2011 law banning face veils made Muslims feel stigmatized anew.

Note the phrase “what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.” Yes, that may be an explanation, but, as in the Politico piece, it sounds like an excuse. France is too secular! As Politico said, France has a “dangerous religion of secularism.” Since when is secularism a religion? And how is it “dangerous”? Only to those who are so attached to their faith that they’ll kill for it.

Yes, secularism entails an acceptance of blasphemy, for religion, like politics, should not be protected from criticism. It’s that blasphemy that inspired the original Charlie Hebdo murders, and has now returned to prompt four more murders.

Finally, the AP mentions an “outspoken President”. 

France has been hit with extremist attacks over recent decades under leaders across the political spectrum, but centrist President Emmanuel Macron is a particularly popular target. Protesters burned his portrait or stomped on it at protests in multiple countries this week.

That’s in part because of a law Macron plans to introduce to crack down on Islamist fundamentalists he contends are turning some communities against the state and threatening pillars of French society, including schools. In the wake of recent extremist attacks, his government expelled Muslims accused of preaching intolerance and shut down groups seen as undermining French laws or norms.

The words the president uses have provoked outrage as well. He said the planned law was aimed at Islamist “separatism,” which raised fears of the further alienation of French Muslims.

At a memorial for a teacher beheaded for showing the prophet caricatures to his class, Macron gave a speech extolling tolerance, knowledge and religious freedom. But he drew ire, including from Turkey’s president, for saying, “We won’t renounce the caricatures” and that France should “diminish Islamists.”

Earlier, Macron described Islam as a “a religion that is in crisis all over the world,” with positions “hardening” in many Muslim countries.

Well, Macron may be a target, but he can hardly be blamed as a main cause of French terrorism. His statements were made after the killing of the teacher, and of course far more Islamist murders happened before his watch than after it.

Now I’m sure that France bears at least some guilt for policies that anger its Muslim population. But those policies cannot by any means justify the murder of civilians. And I maintain that the main cause is still religion—a religion that mandates proselytizing, encourages feelings of outrage, and is as much a way of life as a faith, encouraging separatism.

You may say that I’m misinterpreting these articles: that they’re just meant to explain to the public why French Muslims are outraged to the extent that they slaughter non-Muslim citizens. But I’d be more likely to believe such a claim if I saw an equal number of articles explaining why the religion of Islam, as opposed to other faiths, is so often involved in these attacks. Doesn’t the public need to know that, too? Well, not according to the press, who, if they gave such explanations, would be subject to terrorist attacks themselves.

Religion poisons everything.

h/t: Ben

It’s World Hijab Day: Celebrate oppression!

February 1, 2020 • 11:30 am

Today, February 1, is World Hijab Day.  Ironically, the date coincides with the day in 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran and became the country’s Supreme Leader, helping turn Iran into a theocracy.

Part of the theocratic change involved laws forcing women to wear the hijab. The women of Iran didn’t like that. They took to the streets, demonstrating against the regulation, but it was to no avail. Now women in Iran are being jailed, even for years, for simply removing their hijab in public (see my posts here and here, and the collection here). It’s not optional, but mandatory, and it might as well be mandatory in Afghanistan, where social pressure and the morality police mean that virtually every woman covers their head.

In other places where hijab isn’t mandatory, social pressure and parental and peer pressure mean that even young girls are forced to wear it, and the notion that it’s always a woman’s “free choice” is ludicrous. When someone tells you that wearing a hijab is “their choice”, it behooves you to take that with a grain of salt until you know about their upbringing.

We all know about the origin of the hijab. Although it’s not specifically mandated in the Qur’an, covering the head (and often other parts of a woman’s body) is a religiously-inspired dictate designed to keep men—seen as giant, slavering testicles—from attacking women if they glimpse a head of hair or a bare arm. The headscarf for Muslims is (and I don’t often use this word) patriarchal, reflecting a sexist view that men cannot control themselves and, worse, that the onus is on women to stifle this uncontrollable lust of men. In the meantime, men can dress pretty much as they want.

When I’m in overseas airports I often see Middle Eastern men dressed in Western clothing, with a covered woman (often in burqa) pushing a baby carriage and trotting along behind. It’s the very symbol of women’s oppression, for really, how many women would dress like that if they weren’t compelled by law or custom? We already know the answer: almost none, for women in Iran before 1979 were rarely veiled.

Nevertheless, Western Control Leftists, and, worse, left-wing feminists, celebrate hijabis, seeing them as oppressed minorities, for the hijab is a symbol of Islam, and Muslims are considered people of color. It’s ironic, though, that the very garment that marks these women as oppressed minorities is itself a sign of oppression. Such is the hypocrisy of the Authoritarian Left.

My own view, which I’ve repeated ad nauseam, is that of course women should be able to wear a hijab if they wish, but should never be compelled to do so—not by their government, not by their parents, and not by their peers. Further, I don’t think there should be any laws in the West banning it, or banning any other Muslim garment unless uncovering is required by society in some circumstances (e.g., courts, banks, and the like). Finally, I agree with the take of Alishba Zaremeen, an ex-Muslim activist and feminist (she’s also married to Muslim apostate Ali Rizvi):

So it’s ironic that Khomeini Arrival Day coincides with World Hijab Day, described by its advocates at the official website (click on screenshot below):

Note that it touts “unity”, though of course the hijab is divisive, and the hashtag #EmpoweredInHijab is ludicrous—pure Orwellian doublethink. I see no reason to celebrate a garment designed as a tool of women’s oppression, even if some women wear it “voluntarily”.

It becomes a bit more ironic when you realize that, just last month, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizdeh, defected to Europe because she couldn’t take Iranian oppression any longer.  The bronze medalist in taekwondo issued a long statement on Instagram that refers to the hijab; here’s part of it:

How do I start? With a hello, a goodbye or to offer my condolences? Hello to the oppressed people of Iran, goodbye to the noble people of Iran, and my condolences to the perpetually mourning people of Iran. How well do you know me? Have you only seen me in sports matches, on television, or in the presence of government leaders?

Allow me to now freely and without censorship introduce myself.  They will say after this I will amount to nothing. I myself believe that even before this I was nothing. I am Kimia Alizadeh; I am not a historian nor a champion nor a flag-bearing representative of Iran. I am one of millions of oppressed Iranian women who has been a pawn of the regime for years.

They have taken me wherever they have wanted. They dictated the way I should dress and every sentence that they asked me to say, I repeated. At any time they wanted, they paraded me around. They even sacrificed my medals and victories for their oppressive dress code and hijab. I was not important to them. None of us were. We were just tools.

Further, several sources (e.g., here) reveal that Iranian chess grandmaster Mitra Hejazipour was fired by the Iranian team, also in January, because she took off her hijab when playing in Moscow. Apparently if you’re representing Iran anywhere, you have to keep covered. Again, she spoke out against the hijab:

The Iranian female chess grandmaster Mitra Hejazipour who was sacked from the national team for boldly removing her headscarf (hijab) during the World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow, has said that hijab is “limitation” not “protection” as official regime propaganda claims.

In an Instagram post on January 28, the 27-year old grandmaster said the hijab is a clear symbol of an ideology in which women are “the second sex”. “It creates many limitations for women and deprives them of their basic rights. Is this protection? I say definitely not, it is solely and merely a limitation,” she wrote.

Hejazipour who says she was bullied by a relative at the age of six to wear a headscarf, even at home, now insists after years of wearing the hijab at all times and being “an example to others”, she has decided “not to have a share in this horrendous lie and not to play the game of ‘We love the hijab and have no problem with it’ anymore”.

That’s really empowering, isn’t it? I doubt that Hejazipour will be going back to Iran after saying something like that, but I can’t find any information about where she is. If she’s in Iran, it’s likely she’s in jail. (Readers are welcome to find her.)

A final irony: The Swedish edition of Elle magazine, in conjunction with L’Oréal Paris, voted a hijabi, Imane Asry, as having the “look of the year”. Although she wears tons of makeup, which will surely make men go wild and commit unspeakable acts that overcome the purpose of her headscarf (see below), Asry touts her wearing of “modest fashion” in the interview (translated by Google from the Swedish):

Big and warm congratulations! How does it feel?  

– It means so much to me, as a little I dared not dream of anything nearby. I was absolutely convinced that someone who looked like I could not be awarded such an award. In addition, being a visible Muslim woman has an influence in fashion Sweden feels almost unreal! It makes me so happy to see such changes in an otherwise very superficial and homogeneous industry.

You have been voted in tough competition by several other cool women, what do you think made you win?

– I think my style reaches out and inspires so many, not just Muslim women. But also that many can identify with my work. This is a confirmation that it is more than time for us to start normalizing the hijab in the fashion industry. Fashion is for everyone.

Describe your style! 

– Scandi-modest-chic. . . .

. . . .What is modest fashion, for those unfamiliar with the concept?

– It is a term for fashion that includes less tight clothing, very common among Muslim women (including men) who want to dress in a way that meets their spiritual and stylistic requirements because of religious beliefs or personal preferences.

Her makeup, laid on with a trowel, isn’t very modest, but so be it. We don’t know whether Asry was ever compelled to wear hijab, but voting this the “look of the year” is clearly approbation of the hijab. The irony becomes thicker if you accept the report of the Gatestone Institute (yes, it’s conservative, but you can check the statements for yourself) that even in Sweden, wearing the hijab is not always a voluntary choice for women (or let me rephrase that since I’m a determinist: women are often compelled by their families and peers to wear the hijab). Their report:

As previously reported by Gatestone Institute, a 2018 study commissioned by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and written by researchers at the Centre for Societal Security (CTSS) at the Swedish Defence University, showed that radical Islam had spread to several Swedish cities and that this meant that in some areas, “There are parents…who put veils on their three-year-olds”. The authors of the study also mentioned that schools and other local authorities did not know how to deal with the challenges created by the radical Islamists.

One example was when a Muslim schoolgirl wanted to take off her headscarf to play hairdresser with the other children, the Swedish school staff did not allow it out of respect for her parents’ wishes. In an example from a Swedish preschool, a little girl did not want to wear her headscarf but the Swedish personnel forced it on her, “even though it felt wrong”, because it was the parents’ wish.

These are not the only examples of Swedish teachers appearing unbothered by considerations about little girls’ rights not to have the hijab forced upon them. In the city of Skurup, municipal authorities recently prohibited wearing of headscarves in the city’s schools. At one school, Prästmosseskolan, six female non-Muslim teachers wore hijabs to protest the decision. The headmaster said that he would never make a student remove their veil; that he considered the decision discriminatory and in contravention of the Swedish constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. Around 250 Muslims demonstrated against the decision to ban the veil. “The ban is about taking Muslim women’s rights to their bodies away and removing their democratic rights and choices. It is a racist policy”, said Tasnim Raoof, chairman of the organization Malmö’s Young Muslims.

Swedes have always been eager to glorify the hijab; see for example my post from 2017: “‘Feminist government’ of Sweden dons hijabs and body-covering coats in Iran.”

The upshot: Knowing what the hijab means and how it originated, the idea of glorifying the headscarf, celebrating a Hijab Day, and “normalizing” the garment as “empowering” by the media, is something that makes me ill. But I also feel that women should be able to wear one if they’re not compelled to, that there should be no laws in the West against wearing one, and that nobody should discriminate against a woman because she’s wearing one. But let’s not glorify the equivalent of a ball and chain worn on the head.

I give the final word to Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, who founded the My Stealthy Freedom campaign that supports women in Iran who want to remove their hijabs. She’s sort of a hero of mine, as is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but of course both of these women have been either ignored or demonized by the Left because they’re considered “Islamophobic.” They should be heroes to all feminists, for they were in fact Muslims and are now tireless campaigners against Islam’s oppression of women. As I wrote when I posted this before:

This is a brave and heartfelt plea, and at 8:20 Alinejad waxes particularly eloquent, calling European female politicians “hypocrites” for bowing to hijab laws. At least listen to the last minute, and if you like that video, watch this one on the My Stealthy Freedom campaign.

h/t: Malgorzata

Turkish legislature to introduce a “marry your rapist” bill, legalizing statutory rape

January 23, 2020 • 10:30 am

The age of consent for sexual congress in Turkey is 18, so if a man has sex with a woman under that age, he’s guilty of statutory rape. But that mey be about to change.

According to the Independent and other sites (mostly tabloids, as this stuff gets little attention in the mainstream Western press), a new bill will be introduced into the Turkish parliament that will exculpate a statutory rapist if he marries the victim. Read about it by clicking on the screenshot below. 

Details about the bill are sketchy, but as far as I can determine it would not exculpate offenders accused of violent and nonconsensual rape, though, given the honor culture of many Muslims, it might even apply in such cases if the victim’s family pressures her to marry the rapist. Here’s what the Independent says:

A law which would allow men accused of having sex with girls who are under 18 to avoid punishment if they marry their victims is set to be introduced to parliament in Turkey.

The controversial so-called “marry-your-rapist” bill, which lawmakers are planning to introduce to Turkish parliament at the end of January, has sparked fury among women’s rights campaigners in the country.

Critics argue the legislation, which the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is urging the government to axe, not only legitimises child marriage and statutory rape but also paves the way for child abuse and sexual exploitation.

A similar bill was defeated in Turkey in 2016 after national and global outrage. The legislation would have only pardoned men if they had sex without “force or threat”.

. . . and from The Daily Fail:

Ahead of international women’s day in 2018, Turkey’s president blamed the media for a rise in cases of domestic violence against women and child abuse, telling journalists to not report such incidents.

At Turkey’s Women and Democracy Association in Istanbul in 2016, Erdogan urged women to have at least three children, saying a woman who rejects motherhood is ‘deficient’ and ‘incomplete’.

In 2014 Erdogan said biological differences meant women and men could not serve the same functions, adding that manual work was unsuitable for the ‘delicate nature’ of women.

The legal age of consent in Turkey is 18, but a government report published in 2018 on child marriage estimates a total of 482,908 underage girls were married over the last ten years.

What is also unclear is if there’s a lower age limit for this bill. It clearly allows marriage between men and women under 18, but what about 15? 12? The potential for abuse is high given the widespread practice of child marriage in Turkey. Not only is there the potential for the production of unwilling child brides via “honor culture,”, but such brides could be produced if the family got an underaged woman to accuse a man of rape just so they could get married.

I see no reason why the present system, with prosecution for statutory rape and keeping the age of consent at 18, to be eliminated.  Eighteen is a reasonable cutoff for allowing consensual sex, and no marriage is required when that occurs. All this bill does is give men a way to have sex with underaged women and win a get-out-of-jail free card. Further, I can’t see any reason for passing such a law save a religious one: in many places it is the custom of Muslims to take child brides, which is odious because many of these marriages are against the child’s will and there’s no justification for assuming that women below 18 have the capacity to consent to such marriages.

President Erdoğan and his “Justice and Development Party” (the Turkish equivalent of India’s Hindu-centric and right wing BJP) have been moving the country toward a theocracy for a decade. They’ve restricted freedom of the press, arrested thousands of political opponents, opposed increased freedom for gay people, and banned the teach of evolution below the university level. As one who has visited and loved both Turkey and India, I’m immensely saddened by their seeming returns to theocracy. Permitting child brides is one more odious step for Turkey. Atatürk would whirl in his grave if he knew what was happening to his country.

Iran’s only woman Olympic medalist defects to Europe

January 13, 2020 • 8:30 am

I weep for the people of Iran. They’re not nearly as religious as their theocratic rulers, they used to be much more “modern” and secular before the Revolution, and, after surviving a brutal war with Iraq, are now demonstrating both for and against the government, with supplies low, gas prices high, and an oppressive religious regime controlling their every move. If you’re a woman and take off your hijab, you’re bound for jail, often for many years, assuming you survive there.  Homosexuality is a capital crime. It’s awful.

It’s no surprise, then, that this happened. According to many sources, Kimia Alizadeh, the only woman Olympic medalist in Iranian history (she won a bronze in taekwondo, and is just 21) has defected to the West. And, as she announced, it’s because she was oppressed and controlled. Here’s the New York Times story:

An excerpt:

The only female athlete to win an Olympic medal for Iran announced this weekend that she had defected from the nation because of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery” and said she had been used as a “tool.”

The Olympian, Kimia Alizadeh, 21, announced her decision in an Instagram post accompanied by a photo from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she won a bronze medal in taekwondo.

“They took me wherever they wanted,” she wrote. “Whatever they said, I wore. Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”

Here’s her Instagram post announcing her defection:

After a long hunt, I finally found a translation on The Daily Wire done by four Iranians.  It’s a pretty powerful statement:

How do I start? With a hello, a goodbye or to offer my condolences? Hello to the oppressed people of Iran, goodbye to the noble people of Iran, and my condolences to the perpetually mourning people of Iran. How well do you know me? Have you only seen me in sports matches, on television, or in the presence of government leaders?

Allow me to now freely and without censorship introduce myself.  They will say after this I will amount to nothing. I myself believe that even before this I was nothing. I am Kimia Alizadeh; I am not a historian nor a champion nor a flag-bearing representative of Iran. I am one of millions of oppressed Iranian women who has been a pawn of the regime for years.

They have taken me wherever they have wanted. They dictated the way I should dress and every sentence that they asked me to say, I repeated. At any time they wanted, they paraded me around. They even sacrificed my medals and victories for their oppressive dress code and hijab. I was not important to them. None of us were. We were just tools.

They only cared about our medals. They were only as valuable as the political leverage that they could offer. At the same time, they tell you “a woman should not stretch her legs.” Every morning I wake up my legs are unknowingly spinning like a fan and they expect not to be the flexible athlete that I am? In a live television interview they invited me to specifically ask me about this.

Now they I have left l, they say I sold out. “Mr. Saee, I have left so that I don’t become like all of you. And that I do not take even one further step in the direction that you have taken. If I had, I would have become much more successful much sooner.”

I turned my back because I am a human and I want to stay a human. In your male dominated and female oppressing minds you always thought ‘Kimia is a woman and will not speak.’ My tortured soul will no longer serve your filthy political endeavors nor your dirty economic dealings.

Other than Tae-kwon-do, the only thing i want is a happy and healthy life. To the kind and oppressed people of Iran: I did not want to climb to a pedestal whose steps are paved with lies and deceit and no one from Europe has invited me and no one has offered me anything, but I am willing to bear the difficulty of living in exile because I could no longer stay at a table where dishonesty, con-artistry and injustice were being served. Making this decision was more difficult than earning the Olympic gold medal, But please know that wherever I am I will forever remain a child of my native country. I will count on you and my only wish is to have the support of my people.

It’s not clear where Alizadeh is right now, but she seems to be in the Netherlands, as there is a photo of her and her fiancé in that country standing by a flower-laden memorial to those who died on the Ukrainian flight shot down by Iran (you can see a Twitter thread here). And in the photo (below), she’s not wearing a hijab:

Another excerpt:

Ms. Alizadeh’s announcement came four months after Saeid Mollaei, one of Iran’s biggest judo stars, defected to Germany. During last year’s judo World Championships, Iranian officials pressured Mr. Mollaei to either withdraw or intentionally lose his semifinal bout, to avoid being matched in the final against an Israeli rival.

Iranian athletes are forbidden to compete against Israelis.

“A lot of our athletes are forced to deal with these matters — and their suffering is growing by the day,” Mr. Mollaei told the German news outlet Deutsche Welle in September. “Many athletes have left their country and left their personal lives there behind to pursue their dreams.”

Ms. Alizadeh said that she had embarked on a “difficult path,” but that she “didn’t want to sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery.”

“This decision is even harder than winning the Olympic gold,” Ms. Alizadeh wrote, “but I remain the daughter of Iran wherever I am.”

Here’s a video of Alizadeh in action:


Sarah Haider on how Western liberals impede Muslim reform

January 4, 2020 • 1:00 pm

The Stranger is an “alternative” biweekly newspaper in Seattle, and contains a blog called “The Slog”. And it is there that, last June, ex-Muslim activist Sarah Haider was interviewed about the troubles that Western liberals cause for her agenda. What is that agenda? Haider is Executive Director of Ex-Muslims of North America (ExMNA), and her organization “advocates for acceptance of religious dissent, promotes secular values, and aims to reduce discrimination faced by those who leave Islam.”

Haider, born in Pakistan but brought up since age 7 in the U.S., was raised as a Muslim but gave up the faith as a teen, since nothing about it made sense to her. Since then, she and ExMNA President Muhammad Syed have campaigned tirelessly and strategically to call out the dangers of Islamic doctrine as well as provide support and welcome to those who become apostates.

I hadn’t seen this interview, but was intrigued since its headline implied that it would be a criticism about how Western liberalism makes Haider’s job tougher. And indeed, most of the article, after Haider describes her de-conversion, is about that. We’ve talked a lot on this site about the cognitive dissonance that Islamic doctrine provides to the Left, as their liberal values and sympathy for the underdog collide with cultural relativism and the palpably oppressive doctrines that Islam holds towards women, gays, apostates, atheists, and those of other faiths. In the case of Islam, the perceived “underdog” status of Muslims has apparently won, causing the American Left to either neglect or—in the case of forced hijab-wearing—celebrate oppressive religious doctrine.

But it’s good to hear these things from someone who was once a believer, and can’t be accused of not knowing whereof she speaks. Haider is also a liberal, and though she’s been called  a right-winger and a bigot simply because she criticizes Islam, her liberalism is incontestable.

I’ll put up some indented excerpts from her interview below the screenshot.

I assume you get plenty of criticism from Muslims but how is your work received among non-Muslims, especially in the West?

I think foreign policy colors the conversations around Islam in the West. This is what makes things difficult for people on the left. When I first started this back in 2013, 2014, when we were first launching as an organization, I started to get pushback in a few different ways. I got it from secularist and atheists who were concerned that we were taking too harsh an approach towards religion. They wanted us to be humanist Muslims. They didn’t want us to say, “This is not true. This is not real.” They cringed at the idea that we would even want to call ourselves ex-Muslims. They thought that was a very harsh term. I remember being surprised by that. This was the same group of people who were very actively criticizing Christianity—not just criticizing but ridiculing Christianity. And some of those same people were hesitant to do that with Islam. That was very surprising to me. These were my people. I expected them to understand where we were coming from and understand why it was important to tackle religion head on and be unafraid to piss some people off, particularly religious conservatives. I was surprised that some of the people who wouldn’t have hesitated to do that in regard to Western religions were hesitating when it came to Islam.

In the broader left outside of the secular, atheist context, things are so much worse in that it’s assumed right from the beginning that I must be a bigot, I must be right-wing, I must have some kind of war-mongering, imperialist agenda. I get very frustrated. It’s gotten to the point that I take for granted that I’m not going to be accepted by the broader progressive left.

I have a sense that something has changed in the progressive left but I am not one of these people who is going to leave the left and not be progressive anymore. I don’t believe that. What this means is that I have to get involved, I have to change hearts and minds, I have to talk to people. No one said this was going to be easy. There’s a reason we need people to be courageous in social discourse. It’s so easy to fall into political tribes and tribal thinking. Now I see my role has to be to educate people on the left on what’s going on here and how we need to get back on course.

Haider is then asked whether she resents being used by the Right as a weapon against the Left, and avers that the harms of that usage are less than the harms of remaining silent about Islam. She then has a few choice words about the hijab (a pet peeve of mine, since many Left-wing outlets seem to see hijabis as some kind of empowered heroes, and celebrate them regularly). It was thus refreshing to read stuff like this:

What you think about brands like Nike or the Women’s March using models in the hijab?

It frustrates me, of course. I don’t get as mad about it as other people do and that might be because I have a very deep-seated cynicism of corporations in general. I don’t understand the appeal of woke capitalism. I don’t understand why anyone cheers when corporations take these political stances. I don’t know what they think is happening. To me, it’s very clear that they are going to make money off it. It doesn’t mean anything else. It’s sort of like what happens when all these corporations get involved in LGBT activism for a month. I feel the same way about it. If they think they can profit off it, they will do it. I don’t see them as moral creatures so I’m not that mad about it, but I do think it reflects something in the broader culture. By the time a corporation has gotten to the point where they think they can put a hijabi model on the cover of a magazine, they have calculated that something in the broader culture has changed enough that they can profit off it, which means there is a broad sympathy for that view. From that perspective, it’s kind of upsetting to see that there is this broader acceptance of practices like hijab.

I’m sure a lot of Muslim women and non-Muslims who consider themselves allies would say it’s empowering. What’s your response to that, if someone says, “This is my choice, I’m empowered, and I want to be represented on the cover of Sports Illustrated or in Nike ads”?

[JAC: I’ve bolded a statement below that underlines the hypocrisy of liberals when it comes to Islam.]

If we were talking about Christian conservative practices, we would not be having this conversation. I feel sure of it. I feel sure that if a fundamentalist Mormon woman was saying that she is empowered in her long skirt and bonnet or whatever, you would view that with some level of suspicion, especially people who are of the left and who are feminist. And I think they would be right to do that. But when hijabis do the same, the response is totally different. It reveals a lot about our political climate and the ideological emptiness of the left and the degree to which it is very superficial. But it also reveals a latent racism. When Muslim women talk about modesty, it’s seen as this immutable characteristic, like their superstitions are a deep part of them in a way that we don’t see in the West.

Like people are trying so hard not to be racist that they are being racist?

It absolutely is racism. If the hijab is wonderful in all contexts, then you should be happy for it to be something that is forced upon your daughter. If you tomorrow your husband converts to Islam and forces your 8-year-old to put on a hijab and change the way she is dressed and refuse to talk to boys, if this wouldn’t be acceptable to a Western woman when it comes to her own daughter, it should not be acceptable for any girl across the world.

But of course it is acceptable, or at least Western feminists don’t waste a lot of breath on Muslim oppression of women. They might respond that we have problems with women’s rights here in the U.S., and that’s true, but the oppression is less severe than in, say, Afghanistan. They would then respond that “we can fight oppression both here and in the Middle East,” to which I’d respond, “Fine. Then why don’t you do anything about the oppression of women by Muslims?”

One more quote. I’m in danger of violating “fair usage” here, but there’s a lot more to the article than I’ve excerpted.

A lot of people in the West are afraid of being imperialists, that we are just imposing our values on another population.

The idea of cultural imperialism is… I’m finding it hard to speak politely about it, but I think it’s the most nonsensical thing. It’s historically illiterate. This is what happens. The world has always been shaped by other cultures. We’ve seen the flow of cultural values forever. It’s always happened. I don’t know why all of a sudden it’s this negative thing. We’re not imposing liberal values on the East. We’re saying, “Hey, look, equality of the sexes? It’s fantastic. It’s worked out well for us. Women are empowered this way, and it’s morally right.” If they had a choice to adopt it, I think many of them would. I’m baffled by the idea that it’s an “erasure” of culture. Why is my culture defined by how horribly women are treated? If the culture in Victorian England can evolve into what it is and still be an interesting, vibrant place, why can’t that happen in Pakistan or Libya or Saudi?

The piece below, from the Dec. 24 HuffPost, is the kind of stuff that drives me nuts, especially because it implies that wearing the hijab is some kind of virtue.

I’ve supported ExMNA, and, like the FFRF, they don’t waste time or money on non-essential activities. You can donate, if you wish, at this site. 

Pakistani lecturer sentenced to death for blasphemy: insulted the Prophet and Qur’an on Facebook

December 21, 2019 • 10:30 am

Blasphemy laws should simply not exist, for they penalize people specifically for giving offense to the religious. So they don’t just violate freedom of speech, but they specifically immunize religion against mockery, analysis, and criticism. Here’s a brief segment from my Jesus and Mo foreword to show how prevalent these laws are:

69 of the world’s 195 countries have laws on the books against [blasphemy], though in places the laws are vestigial and unenforced relics of an earlier time. But you can still be fined for criticizing religion in Italy, Brazil, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, and the Philippines, jailed in Germany, Poland, El Salvador, India, Finland, Ireland, India, Turkey, Morocco, and Algeria, and put to death in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.  That doesn’t count places where sharia courts can pronounce death sentences not enshrined in civil law, nor acts of murder committed by offended believers in countries like the Netherlands.

Note Pakistan there, which is now enforcing the capital punishment of blasphemy against a University lecturer who blasphemed against both Mohammed and the Qur’an on Facebook. Today he was sentenced to death.

The report is from Al Jazeera, and I can’t seem to find the report in mainstream U.S. media. Click on the screenshot below to read it.

The victim, Junaid Hafeez, has his own Wikipedia page, which reports that he’s also a graduate student and has studied in the U.S. I can’t find exactly what he said that constituted blasphemy; here’s what Wikipedia reports:

Soon after his arrival [back in Pakistan from the U.S.], Hafeez was targeted by the Islamist groups Islami Jamiat Talaba (the student group affiliate of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami) and Tehrik-tahafaz-e-Namoos-e-risalat, who opposed Hafeez’s more liberal teachings. They distributed pamphlets calling for Hafeez to be arrested and hanged, and staged a strike. Hafeez was quickly expelled and his housing and teaching contracts were revoked.

Hafeez was arrested on March 13, 2013, in Multan, Punjab province. He was held at Sahiwal Jail on the charge of violating section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the blasphemy law that provides for a death sentence for anyone who in any way “defiles” the name of Muhammad. Blasphemy laws in Pakistan are frequently used to target individuals to settle personal vendettas and to target religious minorities (such as Christians, Ahmedis, and atheists) and scholars. Hafeez’s father, Hafeez-ul Naseer, has attributed his arrest to the Islamists’ opposition to his son’s liberal views, and their desire to get one of their own members an open lecturer position. Hafeez has been held in solitary confinement since June 2014, and since 2018 his conditions have been reported to have become more extreme, and Hafeez’s physical and mental health have declined.

He has been in solitary confinement for five and a half years! The report:

An excerpt:

Islamabad, Pakistan – A court in Pakistan has convicted a university lecturer of blasphemy and sentenced him to death in a case rights groups have long cited as emblematic of fair trial concerns in such prosecutions in the country.

Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at the Bahauddin Zakariya University in the central Pakistani city of Multan, was accused of having insulted Islam‘s Prophet Muhammad and its holy book, the Quran, verbally and on Facebook in 2013.

A court in Multan found him guilty and sentenced him to death on Saturday after a lengthy trial that saw frequent delays and transfers of judges.

Hafeez has been held in solitary confinement due to security concerns since 2014 when his lawyer, prominent rights activist Rashid Rehman, was murdered.

. . .”Junaid Hafeez’s death sentence is a gross miscarriage of justice,” said Rabia Mehmood, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty [International]. “The verdict of the Multan court is extremely disappointing and surprising. Junaid’s entire case and lengthy trial has been unfair and a travesty.”

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it was “dismayed by the verdict”, adding that “HRCP believes that the blasphemy laws are heavily misused”.

“In five years, at least eight judges have heard Mr Hafeez’s case, making a fair trial virtually impossible. Meanwhile, he has undergone six years’ imprisonment in solitary confinement,” added the statement.

The laws aren’t just misused—they shouldn’t exist at all. Pakistan’s attempt to stifle all criticism of Islam (they also make WordPress censor my Jesus and Mo cartoons) is ridiculous and contemptible—unworthy of any country in the modern world. Let’s hope that, like Asia Bibi, Hafeez finds justice somewhere down the line. But he’s already lost five years of his life (and reportedly much of his mental health) due to this ridiculous prosecution.

Here’s a tweet showing his photo.