Necessary criticism is not “Islamophobia”

There have been a long string of articles recently that have accused atheists, particularly the big names in atheism, of being Islamophobic:

Conversations about the practical impossibility of God’s existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling. The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason.

There are too many articles and too many angles of attack for me to read them all and respond here, however I’d point you to this post on Why Evolution is True which has rebuttals for 7 of the complaints raised in the articles. Continue reading

Quick links: Aan and the Solanaceae

Solanum sisymbrifolium

When I was working at the Compton Herbarium I had the chance to see many different plants, some of which were particularly interesting. One of those was Solanum sisybrifolium, a type of nightshade, which caught my attention by having thorns on it’s leaves! 3quarksdaily has a post concerning the Solanaceae, the nightshade family, which has a wide variety of plants that includes both deadly poisons and hallucinogens to potatoes and tomatoes. It is well worth a read.

The second link (third really but one of the previous ones was just for further information) concerns Alexander Aan who most readers should remember as I’ve covered his story a number of times. He’s the Indonesian who posted “God doesn’t exist” on Facebook and was sentenced to 2,5 years in jail and fined approximately US$10 600. There is currently a petition to get President Obama to call for Aan’s release which needs 25 000 signatures. I think it’s only intended for Americans but my second highest number of hits is from the US so I think it’s worth linking to here.

Updates: Aan and Nando’s

There’s not too much new about the Alexander Aan case but there are a few things I missed when I originally wrote about his sentencing. There seems to be some disagreement with what he wrote. I originally read, and quoted, “God doesn’t exist” but now I’m seeing “God does not exist.” Of course that’s not really that big of a difference and it’s probably not even worth worrying about since he probably posted in Indonesian and not English. A little more serious was that I missed part of his sentence. Not only was Aan sentenced to 2,5 years in jail but also fined Rp100 million (about US$10 600). This article has some information on the groups that are supporting him.

Back in South Africa, there has been positive news regarding Nando’s anti-xenophobia advert. If you remember it was banned by the SABC, DStv and e.tv and M-Net for supposedly having a xenophobic undertone and in case people misunderstood it. This week, TopTV announced that it would show the ad on a number of it’s channels. One of the positive knock-on effects of that decision is that DStv has now lifted it’s own ban on the advert. Hopefully the other channels will soon follow suit.

UPDATE: Not worth making a new post for this but Nando’s has said it’s no longer interested in showing it’s ad on DStv.

Aan sentenced

Alexander Aan, the Indonesian man who was facing up to 11 years for the crime of blasphemy has been sentenced today. He was sentenced to 2,5 years in prison. Aan’s “crime” was posting “god doesn’t exist” on Facebook.

Last month, Islamic groups in Indonesia threatened to cause chaos if Lady Gaga performed in the country, leading police to deny her a permit. The Islamic Defenders Front is reported to have said they were prepared to die to stop the concert.

Jail time for not having a religion

I first mentioned Alexander Aan in my Valentine’s day post then, again, in my follow-ups post. For those that don’t remember, Alexander Aan is an Indonesian who posted a Facebook message that simply said, “God doesn’t exist.” That post was all it took for him to be arrested and for some Muslims to call for his execution. Continue reading