Tag Archives: islam

Unable to Achieve an Islamic World, Iran Aims a Bit Lower

There seems to be a lot of weird coming out of Iran lately. Just a couple days ago, they announced that Iranian scientists developed a time machine (that they weren’t making public for fear of the Chinese stealing their technology). Yesterday, they announced that they had developed an “Islamic Google Earth“:

The system will be an “Islamic Google Earth,” according to Mohammad Hassan Nami, Iran’s minister for information and communications technology. It will go by the moniker “Basir,” which means “spectator” in Farsi, and it reportedly will be ready for launch in the next four months.

Google Earth merely feigns providing a service, Nami said, but is actually used by security and intelligence organizations to obtain information from foreign countries.

What exactly will be different about the “Islamic” 3D map, Nami didn’t say.

What better way to make it perfectly clear how differently you see the world?

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Sam Harris Responds to Critics

Sam Harris

Image credit: Wikipedia commons

Let me start by apologizing for my irregular posting as of late. This weekend I was at a conference in Albuquerque and had zero time for blogging; and as the semester (my final semester of college!) comes to a close, I’m finding myself with less and less time for blogging.

Be that as it may, I’m going to commit myself to making time to blog. I really love blogging (and communicating with you readers), so I can’t think of a worthy excuse for not engaging more consistently.

Today I mostly just want to direct you to read Sam Harris’ most recent blog post, which addresses the complaints of his critics. The post is outlandishly long, but necessarily so. Harris has been criticized for his views (or the views people attribute to him) on Islam, torture, war, airport profiling, and Buddhism – and he addresses each of these concerns comprehensively.

I have already formed my own opinion about his rebuttal, but I’m interested to hear how others have responded as well. Harris is undoubtedly an exceptional and entertaining writer, and I enjoy reading what he has to say whether or not I agree with it. He is a controversial figure in atheist discourse – this new post will do nothing to change that.

Please read what he has to say entirely, then leave your comments here if you so choose. I’m eager to hear the verdict.

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Blaspheming Islam and Muhammad

Three atheist bloggers have been arrested in Bangladesh because they “hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions and their prophets and founders including the Prophet Muhammad.”

The arrest of the three, who were paraded in handcuffs at a news conference, followed pressure from Islamists who have organised a march from all over the country to the capital to demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan said the three arrested men were among 84 “atheist bloggers” named in a list handed over by an Islamist group to a government panel probing alleged blasphemy against Islam on the Internet.

“The arrests were made on primary information” and further investigation is underway, Khan said, adding the government would act toughly to prevent any attempt to upset “communal harmony” via the Internet.

There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and fundamentalists in Bangladesh’s blogosphere and on social media for years, but it took a deadly turn in February when an atheist blogger was murdered.

Can we please stop pretending that Islam is a peaceful religion? I know – there are plenty of Muslims who aren’t calling for the death of these bloggers. But there are also tons of “moderate” Muslims who aren’t speaking out against those who wish to execute humans for speech; and it’s not as though this is a new phenomenon among Muslims.

Also, shame on the Bangladesh government for succumbing to the bullying of these extremists. Article 39 of the Constitution of Bangladesh states:

Freedom of thought and conscience, and of speech, is guaranteed.

Though, perhaps the following caveat negates that right:

Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence-

1. the right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression; and
2. freedom of the press, are guaranteed.

Freedom of speech and expression (real freedom – not the type that can be revoked under the absurd banner of avoiding offense) is essential to a prosperous society. That’s why I’m glad I live in the United States, where I can say that I think Muhammad was a clown and a wretched human being, and that Islam is a pathetic and destructive philosophy.

Stop taking offense to blasphemy and start objecting to calls for violence against people who have done nothing wrong.

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أمة واحدة تحت الله

Pop quiz: What is the official language of the United States?

If you answered English, you would be wrong. The United States has no official national language, for we live in the great melting pot of the world.

The United States is composed of people of all nationalities, ethnic groups, faiths and ideologies. Growing up, I was taught that America’s diversity was something of which we were to be proud, something that made us different. So when a high-school student organization is formed for the purpose of “destroy[ing] the barriers, embrac[ing] the cultures” of a diverse student body, you might expect that organization to receive full support in its efforts.

Embracing diversity, it turns out, is a scary thing to put into practice when it involves those scary Arabs. At Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo., a group of students known as the Cultural Arms Club is under fire for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. What should, in an ideal world, be a non-story lit up the Internet today. While many people have voiced support for the youngsters taking this initiative, some dissenters are downright angry about the audacity of reciting the Pledge in a language other than English – especially the language of the terrorists!

One of the greatest points of contention is derived from the fact that the word “Allah” was used in the recitation in place of the word “God.” Though “Allah” literally translates to “God,” some people are very upset that students would dare utter that word during the sacred oath to our country.

The group has garnered complaints for the practice of reciting the Pledge in another language in the past once before, when they used Spanish.

Fortunately the kids in the group seem to have their heads on straight. In fact, most seem absolutely baffled that there has been an outcry at all. After all, the point of the organization is to promote and embrace diversity, and now they are under fire for doing just that.

In the end, Arabic is just another language. It is not exclusive to Islam, and we should be ecstatic that students are taking the initiative to familiarize their classmates with other cultures. I applaud the students for their boldness, as well as Principal Lopez of RMHS for standing up for the students. U.S. citizens of all languages and backgrounds should feel free to recite the Pledge in their own way, and anyone who wants to deter that needs to rethink values.

I do have to wonder how much of this chaos could be avoided if the line “under God” was simply stricken from the Pledge altogether…

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