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The Cracked Crystal Ball II: The Closer You Look …

The closer one looks at the ISIS thing, the more it starts looking like a sectarian war in the Middle East.  Yesterday in the Globe and Mail, Robert Fowler very nicely articulated the problem with short term solutions to the mess in Iraq, and today I spotted a really interesting read describing some of the reasons behind the apparent lack of response from several Arab states, in particular Saudi Arabia.

As is typical of these situations in the region, it is starting to become apparent that for all of its bloodiness, ISIS is simply another sectarian feud spilling out (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Critical thinkers, Take Heart

Dispelling misconceptions is never well-received in the media:

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drive-by planet: Following AKP win Erdogan to ‘enter the lair’ of ‘traitors’: war against Syria in the works?

 Top: Erdoğan after win flanked by son Bilal / Beneath left: Fethullah Gülen

Following a solid win for the AKP in the nationwide local elections in Turkey, PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declared victory and made pointed threats directed at his opponents. He stated his intention to “enter the lair” of his enemies who he has branded “terrorists” and “an axis of evil.” He appears ready to put an end to what he regards as internal treachery… in his words “a state within a state.”

This is a dagger pointed at US-based Fethullah Gülen and his Hizmet supporters (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: The DWR Sunday Religious Disservice – Featuring Dark Matter2525

The title of this video is “what if you’re wrong” and yes atheist friends DM2525 does touch on that venerated old chestnut of Pascal’s Wager, but like M. Night – Can’tmakeagoodmovietosafehislife- with a twist – there are questions and consequences that the deluded must face.

If your god happens to be the right one, how is it merciful to condemn some 5 million other people to hell? How do you know your god is the “right” one, given the sectarian nature of the christian and muslim faiths you might be on the right team, but sitting in the wrong (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria opens school for kids in Daraa

 Screenshots from al-Qaeda school video

Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, isn’t just in the business of jihad. It has set up “education” programs to indoctrinate Syrian children. On the walls of a jihad-friendly school in Daraa you don’t find any colorful artwork or alphabets, instead there are posters celebrating jihadist martyrs and verses from the Qur’an… makes Assad’s schools seem almost wildly progressive by comparison.

The video beneath shows the typical routine. Kids show up to recite passages of the Qur’an by rote and learn about jihad. The curriculum includes instruction about weapons. The next stage for some (Read more…)

Molly'sBlog: Syria- A Short History

                                                                                                                                                                                  SYRIA – A SHORT HISTORY By Phillip K. Hitti, Colier Books, New York 1961   This book is an abridgement of the author’s previous work ‘History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine’ (1951). Before the present ‘Arab Spring’ and the subsequent civil war in Syria this country wasn’t of great interest to the average person. This had not, however, always been the case. In the past Syria and its Lebanese gateway had at time been very much in the centre of events.        The author opens with a brief synopsis of Syria’s history, and continues with an (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Molly’sBlog: Syria- A Short History

Terahertz: Two sides of a coin

There is no inherent contradiction in viewing fundamentalist religious headgear as misogynistic while still supporting an individual’s religious freedom, so why does the media keep painting it as such?

The Charter of Quebec Values is creating a huge, perhaps irreparable rift in the province’s women’s movement. For feminists, there is no halfway position over the proposed ban on religious symbols worn by public employees.

On one side are those for whom the Muslim hijab (or any kind of religious headscarf) is anathema because it’s seen as a symbol of female submission. On the other side are those who believe that (Read more…)

Terahertz: Closure of Muslim Free School highlights folly of government policy

A bit of welcome news came today that British government inspectors have forced the temporary closure of an Islamic free school over “health and safety issues.” The school promises to re-open soon.

Over the past few years, the British government has been increasingly trying to solve its broken education system through a combination of market-based reforms. Key among them have been the opening of many “free schools,” that is, fully government-funded schools that are free from the control of local authorities (locally-elected school boards).

Many of these free schools are religiously-motivated and are permitted to have discriminatory admission policies (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Calgary Sun Plays The Racist Card …

It’s never been a big secret that lurking just underneath the surface of Canada’s right wing politics is a religiously-inspired vein of racism.  It reared its head back in the late 1980s when the debate over turbans in the RCMP was at full volume, and the Reform Party voted to ban turbans as part of the RCMP uniform, and frankly has never really gone away. In the Calgary Sun today, we find a column decrying the alleged silence over various attacks on Christians in the Muslim world. More or less, the reasoning in the column seems to be that (Read more…)

THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

I was going to write a long blog post on this but since so much has been written about it I think this captures the spirit and intent of the proposal succinctly.

The bottom line on Quebec’s proposed values charter is that you can visit a hospital named after a saint with a crucifix in the lobby and be guaranteed not to be treated by a Muslim doctor in a hijab because they want to remove

drive-by planet: Woolwich attack on British soldier Lee Rigby was not ‘terrorism’

The killing on an off-duty British soldier on a street in Woolwich, London, had all the ingredients loved by the tabloids… dark skinned Muslim assailants armed with knives and machete… a white well liked military man wearing a Help for Heroes shirt. Had to be an act of terrorism, right? When it became evident that the killing was politically motivated could there even be a shred of doubt?

Labeling the Woolwich incident “terrorism” says most about a political agenda. That the Woolwich attack was a calculated act targeting an off-duty British soldier during a time of war isn’t in question. (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Some Islamophobic new atheists as bad as Fox News on steroids

Atheist “fundamentalists” whose very existence seems predicated on their non-belief in God can be as extremist and narrow minded as the worst religious prig. They’re fixated, the way many extremists are, targeting any trace of faith with the blade of their remorseless skepticism. It’s one thing to have doubts about the existence of “God” as commonly understood… one thing to be skeptical. It’s another to make non-belief your raison d’etre… a weapon to attack religion and people of faith. 

New atheists aren’t “new”… they’re old… they’ve been around forever. Proof-obsessed, non-believing detractors who go beyond criticisms of organized religion (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Thank you Westboro Baptist Chuch

Westboro Baptish Church – made infamous for picketing military funeral in a protest against homosexual tolerance in America – has reached, unbelievably, a new low. They are now threatening to picket the funerals of victims of the Boston bombings, again for some incoherent homophobic reason. As disgusting as this all is, and as much as I feel for those who actually have to experience these bigots first hand in a moment of grief, there is, perhaps surprisingly, an upside. Indeed, I submit that there is a fairly strong positive social consequence of the wide spread attention that Westboro Baptist (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Bill Maher’s Anti-Islam Smear

On his RealTime programme last night, Bill Maher couldn’t wait to get into his shopworn, anti-Islam theme about the Muslim faith being unique in promoting violence.

As I listened to his diatribe I so wished I could ask him just one question.  Since the turn of this century, how many innocent Muslims have died at the hands of Christian forces and how many innocent Christians have perished at Muslim hands?

My guess is that the ratio would be at least several hundred to one and would utterly reduce Maher’s endless rant.

The fact is we’ve been putting the boots (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Video message for FEMEN: ‘saving Muslim women one bra strap at a time’

A Muslimah from Manchester, England, gets her message across in this funny yet pointed video in which she thanks FEMEN ‘from the bottom of her heart’ for showing her how to campaign for women’s rights:

My parents got it wrong, they seriously got it wrong…. they thought that by sending me to school… giving me an education…. they were giving me the skills I needed to make a difference in the world… really what they should have been teaching me is that the best way to campaign as a woman, the best way to be heard, is just to take

drive-by planet: FEMEN wants to ‘liberate’ Muslimahs

The Canadian Progressive: Human Rights Watch: Challenges for Rights After Arab Spring

The willingness of new governments to respect rights will determine whether those uprisings give birth to genuine democracy or simply spawn authoritarianism in new forms.

Dead Wild Roses: The DWR Sunday Disservice and Hero of the Day Special Edition: Malala Yousafzai

I have done a few ‘Hero of the Day’ posts and I have a few more on the ways. The recipients have done great work spreading important information, rallying against injustice, educating us masses, and have been generally awesome. But today’s hero is special. On top of those usual achievements, she’s done it all while [...] . . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: The DWR Sunday Disservice and Hero of the Day Special Edition: Malala Yousafzai

Eclectic Lip: Muslims in America and other hidden ethnic histories

Yves at Naked Capitalism cross-posted a wonderful Alternet piece by Lynn Parramore, eviscerating the idea that Islam is new or alien to America. In truth, the Muslim faith has had a long (if lightly-populated) history in the United States. Islam arrived in America so early, the Puritans hadn’t even burnt their first witch!!

While the 1620 voyage of The Mayflower is deeply mythologized in the American psyche, the 1630 arrival of devout Muslim Anthony Janszoon van Salee in the New Netherlands, gets a lot less attention. Which is a pity, because he seems to’ve been a business

. . . → Read More: Eclectic Lip: Muslims in America and other hidden ethnic histories

Drive-by Planet: Tariq Ramadan on Muslim protests, Islam and the Arab awakening

There has been so much heat and accusation lately over the protests sparked by the schlock anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims it has been hard to find measured voices that offer more than a partisan opinion. Talking points in and around the recent events seem to polarize into ‘censorship versus freedom of speech’ debates or more basic ‘them and us’ scenarios.

For some perspective on the unrest in the Mideast it was interesting to hear the views of Tariq Ramadan in a DemocracyNow interview.

Tariq Ramadan is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University and visiting professor at

. . . → Read More: Drive-by Planet: Tariq Ramadan on Muslim protests, Islam and the Arab awakening

Bill Longstaff: The U.S.—India’s favourite major power

With the unwitting collaboration of an idiot “film-maker” in Los Angeles, irresponsible imams in the Middle East and Islamic extremists leading to the besieging of American embassies, the United States does not appear to be winning the hearts and minds of Islam these days. Not that it was doing much of that before.

Americans may be consoled however by their popularity in the Hindu world. The

The Scott Ross: Rights And Religion Make Us All Fundamentalists

“How dare Islamic fundamentalists kill to protect their religion from such a small and meaningless movie. And though I oppose the hate-filled and misguided film, I would die fighting to protect the studio’s right to release it.” – The irony of fundamentalism.

The recent violence in the Middle East over the release of an anti-Islam movie does not show us how different our cultures are, instead through the conflict of rights and religion, it shows us what our cultures have in common, fundamentalism.

The question of whether the right of free speech is more important than a religion is

. . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: Rights And Religion Make Us All Fundamentalists

Canadian Progressive: Innocence of Muslims: Pathetic Movie Responsible For Ambassador Stevens’ Assassination

Here’s an extended trailer of the ”Innocence Of Muslims”, the shitty anti-Islam movie that unleashed riots in the Muslim world, leading to the assassination of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens. Earlier today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton distance the U.S. government from the movie, and labeled it “disgusting and reprehensible”.

Dead Wild Roses: So, Tell me again about Islam being the Religion of Peace – Innocence of Muslims

Islam, religion of Peace burns down American Embassy illustrating dedication to rational non-violent ways of resolving disputes.

This just in the from insano-delusional land (credit CBC.ca):

“Many Muslims find it offensive to depict the Prophet Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way.

This week’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya, the latter of which claimed the lives of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three others on Tuesday, erupted after a 14-minute trailer of an obscure movie by a California real-estate developer. The film was posted on YouTube in English

. . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: So, Tell me again about Islam being the Religion of Peace – Innocence of Muslims

Drive-by Planet: ‘The Innocence of Muslims’: Bacile film all about insult and provocation

Sam Bacile, an alleged California property developer is reportedly behind the film The Innocence of Muslims that sparked recent attacks on US missions in Libya and Egypt. Bacile – a self-described Israeli Jew – claims the movie cost $5 million to make. It was allegedly financed by 100 mysterious donors. 

There are questions about who “Sam Bacile” really is. There is little background about him on the web, no available pictures in any of the major search engines on last check and no apparent record of him having a California real estate license. There has been speculation that “Bacile”

. . . → Read More: Drive-by Planet: ‘The Innocence of Muslims’: Bacile film all about insult and provocation