Friday, August 28, 2015

Changing perceptions : Reconciling Islam & Homosexuality

Photo from gaymuslim.org

Homosexuality is pretty clearly forbidden in Islam:
We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." - Holy Quran 7:80-81
"Of all the creatures in the world will ye approach males". "And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!" - Holy Quran 26:165-166
The end result for not giving up homosexuality was the destruction of entire cities
When Our decree issued We turned (the cities) upside down and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay spread layer on layer Marked as from thy Lord: nor are they ever far from those who do wrong! - Holy Quran 11:82-83
Quotes from Islamicawareness.net

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Bukhari (72:774) - "The Prophet cursed effeminate men (those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, 'Turn them out of your houses .' The Prophet turned out such-and-such man, and 'Umar turned out such-and-such woman."

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How then do we go about carving a space for people who identify as Muslim and are also gay/trans/bi? 

-Well, we support them for one. We call out Muslim homophobia with the same enthusiasm that we've exposed Christian homophobia. 


-We don't fall into the trap of excusing religion and scripture of all blame. There is a reason homophobia is rampant and justifiable in religious communities, in Muslim communities. Only through acknowledging the root of the problem can we begin to solve it. How can we arm ourselves against something we refuse to accept? 


- Most importantly, Don't try to define who is 'Muslim' and who isn't. That's what ISIS does. And no don't try to tell me they aren't 'real Muslims' either. Trust me, as an atheist ex-Muslim who wishes to hold religion accountable for the hate it spreads, I too am confused by someone who wants to believe in a book that denies them dignity and basic human rights. I personally don't think Islam is a gay-friendly, or woman-friendly religion. But I don't challenge every gay person or woman for subscribing to it because I think that's counter-productive. It's not my place to force my ideas of disbelief upon anyone. Anti-Muslim bigots and Muslim bigots have this in common, a refusal to recognize the diversity of adherents. 


In the same vein of defining 'true Muslims', the government of Pakistan requires its Muslim citizens to sign a document declaring Ahmedi Muslims 'imposters' in order to get a passport.



- Through whatever cherry picking or cognitive dissonance people manage to make religion more palatable....I support them, if they are willing to acknowledge the faults as well. Call out the blatant deniers, but support those working for change. Through solidarity and changing people's mindsets, we begin to chip away at the power religion holds. 


Of course overlaps will exist. Click to enlarge.


Please feel free to save a copy of this diagram and jot down your own examples, and tweet them to me! I've deliberately left out my own examples because I'm interested in hearing who you think fits where. And can you think of someone who fits more than one of the categories? 

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Watch this video if you get a chance, an excellent discussion with a variety of perspectives. I applaud the fact that there are so many debates like this taking place now in the UK. We tend to not have these confrontations too often on mainstream Canadian TV, and it's definitely something we need to do. Canadian liberals usually shy away from criticizing/confronting Islam about anything, they go to great lengths to support tools of misogyny and oppression like the niqab in fact. (I once wrote an open letter to niqab supporting Canadian media which you can read here)

In a progressive, generally liberal society that values both it's immigrants and the freedom to love/marry whomever we choose...we are often put at a fork in the road rather than what should be an intersection - where the road can only go one way or the other, a split rather than a crossing of paths. We feel we can either support (Muslim) immigrants or support LGBT rights at one given time - when in truth we can hold everyone to the same moral standards, and we can stand in the corner of the minorities within minorities.

Our liberal leaders are seen promoting LGBT rights, and women's rights in a Western context, but also seen supporting segregated gatherings and religious institutes that are anti-LGBT in an immigrant context. Why the double standards of morality?  How do we reconcile these two things? It's no easy task, but compartmentalizing and supporting two opposing things doesn't come across as genuine or cohesive at all.

Image from straight.com
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pic from www.630ched.com

Justin Trudeau participating in prayer at a (gender-segregated) mosque
Image from Toronto Sun
I tweeted something about this earlier, and it was no surprise that my tweet was co-opted by Conservatives and Christians *cringe* - I oppose almost everything they stand for, and see that their critique of Islam is hypocritical and self-serving, so that's not the conversation for me to join. But is there a conversation for liberals like myself, where we can oppose religious bigotry across the board? 

Nope. 

We have to stand by and see our religion of birth be given special passes...because 'minority'. The desire to protect the underdog is noble, but it fails those who are underdogs within minority groups. Like gay Muslims for example....it would be wonderful if Trudeau took such pictures with a 'gay Muslim' group at pride, because that would address the intersection - but I can't imagine that would go down well. It'd be nice if he supported initiatives to empower women within mosques and have them no longer treated like second class citizens who sit at the back, but that would alienate his Muslim voting base....it has to be done at some point if furthering a truly liberal agenda is what matters. If you are truly pro-LGBT you must include the invisible LGBT minorities in your photo-ops too. If you are truly for women's rights, you must oppose their oppression even in immigrant communities. Otherwise this is just about getting as many votes as possible. 

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More often than not, Muslim immigrant communities refuse to accept that homosexuality is compatible with Islam. While I agree that the scriptures make it clear certain things are not acceptable, I don't deny that people can openly pick and choose to make for a more 21st century-compatible form of religion. As mentioned in the video above by Maajid Nawaz, majority of Muslims are happy to adjust their morality regarding slavery which is clearly permissible by Islam. Why can't that be done for things like homosexuality as well? To shift the general mindset however, requires a large majority to be supportive. Instead of support we get backlash like this:

Screenshot from Toronto Sun comments
The attitude you see in the above screenshot, is toxic, hurtful and not helpful at all...and this sentiment only increases...the more western liberals avoid confronting obvious issues in Muslim communities. We're failed by the left, we're often despised by the right...and we only become more invisible, us dissenting voices.

This is precisely why I was thrilled with David Cameron's recent speech addressing extremism in the UK. I wish our politicians would take note. He spoke of empowering the often ignored truly liberal Muslim voices. You can read my piece on it here

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One of the most important things we just don't seem to want to tackle at large is changing ideas through the education of children. I hate to keep repeating this theme over and over, but I can't stress enough how important incorporating such topics is in children's education (in an immigrant or Muslim context specifically). Yes it will be controversial, but we have to stand our ground if we want things to change for all parts of our population.

Last year I wrote a children's book set in Pakistan tackling the issue of homophobia.

Read full book here



It was incredibly well received by teachers and children at the time. Till parents discovered it was read in schools and were upset by the news.

There was talk of feeling 'bullied' by the school board, there was talk of suing the school board, there was discussion of how Islam was being misrepresented and Muslims were being targeted via my book. In fact there was an entire radio show, where angry parents called in with their reactions about an innocent children's book. There were articles written by Muslim organizations, and many screams of Islamophobiaaaaaa were heard throughout our land. All the while forgetting that this book was not intended to victimize Muslims, but to lend support to those victimized by their own communities. Schools in Ontario have days like 'Day of Pink' to discuss the specific harmful effects of transphobia and homophobia...but they shy away from taking immigrant communities' intolerance to task. 

You can read more of the reactions and comments I got for the book here

Before the storm of negativity, schools were very interested in the book, as a useful way to teach about diversity within different communities. After the storm of negativity from 'minorities' schools have seemingly shied away from using it/supporting it publicly. Do I think this is a coincidence? No.

If I create resources that people and institutions are intimidated into *not* using, it kind of defeats the purpose. I can write and draw till my hands fall off, but it really feels like no one is listening at times. 'Soft Islamists' (those imposing non-violent extreme religious views) get all the airtime and platforms they need from Canadian media to air their views, but voices like mine are often seen as 'uncomfortable'/taboo/controversial...and as a result ...best left out of the conversation.

Today, I speak to anyone who can change this situation, teachers, educators, politicians, anti extremism analysts, editors, writers, bloggers. We need to start instilling common equality values in *Muslim* children. This would help with integration and lessen anti-muslim bigotry, and susceptibility to radicalization.

This needs to happen in schools. We got very close in Toronto last year, but sadly couldn't stand up to minority communities objecting. My entire book is available online (and in most Toronto Libraries) for free, you don't have to buy it (though it'd be nice if you did - email [nicemangos.blogATgmail] or tweet me if you'd like a copy as the website is currently down) - but please please use it, and teach your children, your students about treating everyone equally, teach them about Muslims with liberal views.... 

It's up to us, the older ones... to create a new generation of Muslims with different values.

Recently we've also had a much needed update to the sex-ed curriculum in our province, and it's revived the conversation once again. Muslims have strongly opposed. Here's what someone who previously ran for 'School Trustee' had to say about My Chacha is Gay

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A few nights ago Channel 4 in the UK aired a documentary called 'Muslim Drag Queens' - it was so exciting to see that minorities in Muslim communities were given a mainstream platform. We just don't have that sentiment in Canada. I hope CBC picks up this documentary to air here... 

The hashtag on Twitter #MuslimDragQueens was an indicator of how deeply rooted this problem of homophobia is among Muslims. The hate and threats being spewed by ordinary Muslims feeling insulted by the very existence of 'Muslim drag queens' was sad to see....

Things need to change, Muslims are lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to human rights, and people are either too polite to point it out, or coming at us with anti-muslim, anti-immigrant hate.  :/

From Muslim Drag Queens

From Muslim Drag Queens

From Muslim Drag Queens








How do we get rid of this hatred and intolerance in a lasting way? 

-We hold everyone to the same standards. 
-We call out oppressive beliefs and practices.
-And most importantly - we start with teaching children...

How can you take action? 

- Share this article
- Tweet to your local channel, ask them to air Muslim Drag Queens
- Tweet to your local schools, libraries - ask them to carry/use My Chacha is Gay as a resource
- Support gay Muslims, don't tell them how to identify. 
- There are other films dealing with this topic you should watch! Jihad for Love and A Sinner in Mecca, which I wrote about here - tweet to your local channels and ask them to show these films too. Films like this will no doubt be 'controversial', but thats exactly why they will affect change. 

From My Chacha is Gay
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Soulful Blowjobs

Eiynah,

So...

My wife is great at fucking.  Few issues there. The desire to fuck has also never been a problem for her. For most of our relationship, she's had the stronger sex drive. She's also incredibly responsive. She moves and reacts in a manner so gratifying it defies description. She gets insanely wet, and cums loud and often.

In fact, one of the things that I found hottest when we first started having sex was that it was so easy to make her cum. I've always genuinely enjoyed going down on women. It's fun. It's hot. I like the smell and the taste and the entire fucking sensory experience. The act is enhanced, of course, when I know she's seeing stars. She's very "verbal," and it always makes me feel like a stud. She has multiple orgasms more often than not. At this point it's not uncommon for me to go down on her for >30 min. at a time. We both love it. It's delightful.

The Problem: My wife gives the most lacklustre, clumsy, uninspired blowjobs I've ever experienced. By far. For the first few years, I didn't care because most every other aspect of our sex life was off the charts. Typically, after all the standard foreplay, we'll progress to me going down on her for 15-ish minutes, often more. After she comes a few times, she'll very mechanically and timidly lick my cock for a few minutes, looking up more and more often until I tell her I'm "ready" to progress to the main attraction. If I try to coach her along the way, she gets distracted and frustrated. She does not respond well when I've tried to guide her with my hands, and I haven't tried to do so in a while.

Over the past year or so, even this has become a rare treat. I'll finish the evening's entree, and she'll just remain on her back, get on her hands and knees, or whatever strikes her fancy. I haven't had my dick sucked in a few months now. I've brought it up explicitly on maybe 2-3 occasions. She's been really accommodating, thanked me for expressing my "needs," but nothing changes. At this point, I'm staring down a future of decreasingly frequent, and decreasingly worthwhile blowjobs. This is unsatisfactory.

How do I kindly, lovingly tell my wife she needs to get much better at sucking my cock? 

[Something about the way you phrase this that bothers me, the entitlement perhaps?]

There's a huge disconnect between the way she behaves during most every other type of encounter, versus how she behaves while performing the perfunctory blowjob. Part of my frustration, unsurprisingly, is that I do feel I go "above and beyond" when going down on her. I'm always enthusiastic, she gives constant feedback, I respond, and it's all just fantastic. I truly enjoy it, but it's bullshit that she doesn't return the favor in any appreciable manner. My frustration is exacerbated by the fact that, prior to meeting my wife, some of my most memorable, mind-blowing, see-Jesus (HaHa, not really, but you get the point...) sexual encounters were - you guessed it! - blowjobs.

[It is unfair, I agree....that you put your best efforts into it, while she doesn't reciprocate.]



If she had some traumatic experience that prevents her from enjoying the act, I feel she needs to tell me. I could deal with that. That's life. But she's never indicated anything of the sort, and I'm left with the likely conclusion that... she just doesn't apply herself. I've tried coaching her, giving her feedback, but nothing changes. What's my best angle for fixing this without manufacturing a whole new set of issues in the process? How do you tell your wife to learn how to suck dick better? Tell her to ask her friends? Watch more porn? Both seem absurd, but I'm at a loss for more... subtle options.

[I understand your frustration, but the 'she's gotta learn to *suck dick* better' attitude isn't helpful even though technically maybe true...it comes across different from 'she should reciprocate'.]

I need enthusiastic, soulful blowjobs from my wife. It's become a quality of life issue for me. I need it. Any advice or feedback you or your readers could give would be much appreciated.

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Dear reader,

Thanks for getting in touch. Let me start by saying that you’re not alone. I hear from both men and women unsatisfied with the quality of oral sex in their lives. Most commonly, especially in Pakistani culture I hear from women who’s spouses think it’s ‘gross’ to go down on a woman, but absolutely fine to receive oral. And shockingly, this is not the only thing Pakistani men are hypocritical about either *gasssp* .... 

But here in the West I’ve had conversations with girl friends who speak about how they are just not that into ‘giving’ oral…especially after a few years of marriage. In uni I knew a girl who said it was something she was just unwilling to do. And more recently, while speaking to a couple we know…the husband joked about how it’s ‘common knowledge’ that women don’t give blow jobs once they are married. I admit I've been slightly surprised each time I hear this, because I didn’t know it was a thing - but the more people I asked the more of a thing it appeared to be. 

This is all anecdotal of course, I don’t have any stats for you… but what’s most surprising to me is how it varies by region. Here (the West) it seems to be more common among women in more settled relationships…and in Pakistan it seems to be that men just find it ‘gross’ in general (giving, not receiving) - though, I’ve heard from men there who have wives raised conservatively who just can’t bring themselves to be ok with giving blow jobs either. The not going down on women is justified by religion and cultural values of how women are meant to be demure and submissive in bed. Wanting oral which is purely for pleasure is ‘unbecoming’. I spoke to a woman who’s husband refused to do it here

Now, as for your wife, it could be a lot of factors. She could just have an aversion to putting genitals, anyone’s - in her mouth. I was reading something about how our threshold for disgust goes down significantly when we’re aroused…how we avoid exchanging bodily fluids otherwise…. but suddenly during sex its ok. It’s weird how that works….in literally no other situation could I imagine mouth to genital contact being ok…so yeah, maybe her threshold just doesn’t lower enough to be ok with a penis in her mouth. And that threshold is different for everyone, I can’t remember what it was that I was reading…otherwise I’d link it, but they also talked about how some people’s threshold lowers so much that they are ok with golden showers, etc. 

It could also be that she had a traumatic experience as you mentioned…you could try asking her about it openly… but cautiously. From what you describe otherwise, it seems she’s very content with the sex…so its *not* that she’s just not into you. Is there tension in the marriage that could be a contributing factor? Maybe there’s something you’re doing that makes her less into going down on you, are you maybe too forcefully suggesting it? You’re not trying to push her head down there are you? The ol' head push isn't a sexy move.  

I recognize how important reciprocity is in a healthy relationship. One can even begin to feel resentful if its all give and no take…I’m glad you have a very healthy sex life otherwise, but if you’re unhappy about this you need to address it before that stuff boils over in an unpleasant way. You’ve talked to her before about it, so you know how to get this conversation started. 

Have this discussion again, as gently and kindly as possible…tell her you miss her, try to focus less on the act itself, don’t say you '*need* better blowjobs' or something. I can’t imagine that phrasing go down well (no pun intended). Talk to her about reciprocity and how it hurts that its one way, and how much you love pleasing her, and wish that sometimes she’d do that for you. Ask her if there is another reason for her lack of enthusiasm…

If indeed there isn’t any specific reason other than a lack of effort, then I can completely understand how you’d feel shortchanged if nothing improves…yet again. So, if it doesn’t change after talking to her then perhaps you shouldn’t ‘service’ her either, just so she knows what its like. Having it go one way all the fucking time is unfair. If she isn’t listening to your concerns despite your airing them, then she doesn’t need to be getting great oral from you all the time. Perhaps that might change her perspective. 

On a tangent, I’ve received emails from guys who are just unhappy about their partner’s technique. Some people are just bad at giving blow jobs, I’m not sure porn is the best place to learn though. But maybe you can start watching some informative sex shows together? There have been a few on, late night in Toronto…ones where ppl call in with their problem and the host tries to help them out, points them to sources. Is this possible where you live? If all else fails there’s always this lady to get tips from:



I kid, I kid….like …. what even.... I don’t know how she makes those sounds - see it could be worse, your wife could be doing that?!

Anyway, I wish you all the best. Its time you had the talk again…and its time you didn’t let it continue as a one way thing. If however, you discover that there is a serious reason for her aversion, like sexual abuse. You need to go easy on your desire for blowjobs. Just let her take her own time and don’t push in that case. It’s a tough situation then, that you need to get through together with honesty, support and patience…she needs to decide if and when she’s comfortable with it.

One last thought…I know from previous correspondence that you’re not religious, but do you think that residual religion could be a factor for your wife?


Hope this was helpful! If anyone else has any advice or similar stories to share please feel free to do so in the comments. 

You may also find my post Pakistanis & Cunnilingus to be of interest.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Jihadist Joe, Vive Charlie: An Islam Apologist's Dream come True


Every religion apologist, or more specifically *Islam apologist*, likes to feel validated for claims of constant victimization. They love it when they come across an 'atheist' that personifies the bigotry they accuse us all of. There aren't many atheists that I know who've left behind bigoted ideologies to align with other bigoted ideologies...but those that do exist are pure gold for an Islam apologist.

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For the past few days the Vive Charlie / Jihadist Joe crew has been terribly furious with me and other secular bloggers for calling out their problematic ideas and associations.

Jihadist Joe is a popular 'satire' twitter account, that critiques 'Islam', but ends up being more anti-Muslim than anti-Islam. He is also one of the founders of Vive Charlie, which is a seemingly far-right, anti-migrant, anti-muslim magazine. It was set up after the horrific mass shooting of cartoonists at French satirical (left-leaning) publication Charlie Hebdo. Sadly, out of ignorance...Charlie Hebdo is too often accused of 'bigotry' and 'racism', as many critics of religion...especially *one* particular religion are. If anything lends credibility to such false accusations, it's publications like Vive.

The difference between a critique of ideology and a critique of entire groups of people is lost on too many - on both the left and the right. The left conflates any criticism of Islam (the idea) with racism/bigotry and ends up pandering to the Islamic far right which is deeply troubling. The Western far right however, lumps together all *Muslims* and tries to pass it off as legitimate criticism of the ideology, also troubling.

In the middle of this 'hate-sandwich' you have ex-Muslims like me. We are called self-hating bigots, 'native informants', 'islamophobes', 'uncle Tom', 'house Arab' by the left...and we are called 'overly PC', islam-apologists by the far right. Kind of impossible to be both...

Ah yes, my penchant for political correctness must be why my work is often censored and why I receive a constant stream of death threats.

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The way I see it, ideas don't have rights, bad ideas should be discussed and mocked without hesitation. Groups of diverse people however, should not be unfairly generalized.

It sounds simple enough, but it isn't for some. Either they just don't get the difference, or they are knowingly bigoted.

Below I will share screenshots of interactions with the Vive Charlie gang, and you can decide which it is in this case.
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It started when they were caught with their hands in the bigotry jar, teaming up with and endorsing Katie Hopkins (who happens to think migrants are like cockroaches and viruses). You can read my previous piece on that here. They were then proven to be dishonest by Sam Harris' confirmation that he did not agree to write for them, as they had falsely claimed.



It was more disturbing to discover that their upcoming Mohammed drawing contest had a known racist guest speaker (Paul Weston), who is on record talking about his ideas regarding 'White Genocide' and how Muslim immigration will cause white Europeans to become outnumbered.





He's also on record in an interview acknowledging he wants to ban Muslims from public office.

Another fine example of the embodiment of Freedom of Speech (which this event is all about, of course) is their other guest speaker Geert Wilders (a Dutch politician) who is also anti-Muslim immigration, and wants to ban the Quran.

The utter hypocrisy in wanting to champion 'free speech' while having guest speakers that want to stifle it ...is remarkable. And the idea of banning something kept personal is too reminiscent of religion for my taste.

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Extremism in all forms is horrendous... and no, I'm not equating racism/bigotry with murderous jihadists, one is clearly more harmful, more urgent. But bigotry by definition is anti-equality and therefore anti-secular. Some will mask it by accusing anyone who opposes their actual 'proof-in-front-of-your-eyes' bigotry of Islam apologia - which does exist in excessive disproportionate amounts. That certainly adds to the confusion.

Its not whats happening here, but it is a very convenient excuse to have...





Here are some lovely tweets:
Disingenuously labelling it as criticism of *Muslims*?
Because yea, there's no mention of the word
'Muslim' in the tweets below at all.
This tweet would be disingenuous if there were though... ;)

Now that we've set the scene for grouping all Muslims in together, the 'Muslim' tweets will
flow much more smoothly. It's almost clever, because it's completely correct, technically....
and at the same time, its a handy way of reminding everyone to lump them in together.
Does Islam provide justification for pedophilia?
Absolutely, and it is disgusting that it does - an issue that
needs to be addressed no doubt. But are 'Muslims' pedophiles in general?
I think thats an unfair and inaccurate statement to make.
Not that he's claimed they are...again with the careful wording. 
It's nice that a little effort is made to conceal outright hatred of Muslims. 

The ol' 'Muslims are goatfuckers', thankfully the British refined and rescued though!

Oh ok! Well considering the *majority* aren't beheading disbelievers and live peacefully
while not taking the Quran literally, that's a bit misleading.
People are better than their religions.

Which is it? Do some not believe in every word, or are even moderates total literalists?
Seems like someone is confused...And of course no names are mentioned in
this tweet, but if recent events regarding secular bloggers calling this generalization out
is what is referred to as an accusation of 'Islamophobia', then this is one of those times
where opposition to bigotry is deliberately being presented as Islam apologia.

Yes because having an opinion on something and explicitly
stating you don't want to ban anything, is 'bullying'. 
John Sargeant of Homoeconomicus Weblog has blogged extensively on
Vive Charlie, with nothing resembling the sentiment of 'Do as I say or else'.
They claim that they are being bullied with attempts to 'censor' them...or that their freedom of speech is being stifled just by others having an opinion...let me clarify (again) that none of us actually oppose the event or their publication's existence. But, freedom of speech doesn't protect one from 'criticism'.

For someone that thinks everyone who disagrees is just a whiney cunt, he seems to get upset really easily. There was attempt to reason....the level of interaction was not very mature.


Lol....always with the name calling, when he's upset. But hey,
its the people opposing him politely that are 'whiny cunts'. 
Obviously I'm the *racist* here. Because I hate
'white people' (and all other people) for holding bigoted views.
There you have it... not tolerating bigotry makes one
a 'racist', but spouting bigotry..makes one a 'satirist'?
The 'I hate white people for being white' bit is amusing..
because it certainly isn't anchored in reality. 

Why can't everyone just fuck off and stop being such a whiny cunt?!

And when swearing at someone constantly isn't enough, just tweet pictures of people being
shot in the head at them. That should stop them from daring to 'blaspheme' against you!

If that's not working, then maybe you can add them to a list to
 inform them they are being given the silent treatment
(you know, in case they don't notice otherwise)
- and then continue the twitter debate with them.

Downplaying the threat I face as an ex muslim ...
 I'm just an *anonymous* attention seeker apparently. 
Apostasy punishment is a big fucking deal in Islam, 
as I'm sure Joe is well aware. So he hates Islam, 
but also trivializes one of the most dangerous aspects of it, 
the fact that it doesn't technically allow anyone to leave. 
Seems a bit self serving to hate on Islam when it suits you, 
but minimize its dangerous aspects when it doesn't.
Some conversation was attempted...to address the actual issue of 'if you're not an anti-muslim bigot, why are the speakers at your event known bigots and a racist?' 

Issue 19 was supposed to be some big reveal of their position.
Where they addressed the concerns people have with them using 
atheism/secularism...Charlie Hebdo's name... and allying with a white supremacist. 
Nope. Joe had already made it clear that he wouldn't be naming 
any problem areas specifically. Because he's not into 'Cultural marxist labelling'. 
I can't help but see parallels with those he criticizes as being unable to call out
 Islam being problematic when it so evidently is. 
'NothingToDoWithRacism' sounds a lot like 'NothingToDoWithIslam'. 
This is from their issue 19 statement. I think even Reza Aslan would agree
that people should be able to draw Mohammed without having to fear violence.
But would anyone want to ally with Reza at such an event? Because
even if he's right on this one thing, we know his other views are nonsense.
And just like I tell  Burqa supporters, that feminism by definition isn't going to
include 'misogyny' - freedom of speech isn't going to include those who are
anti free-speech in other contexts. Unless, you know... consistency isn't your thing.

Paul Weston's racist and anti-muslim views are pretty relevant if one wants their criticism of Islam to come from a place of secularism and intellect rather than a place of outright hatred. Its not about 'sharing a platform'...you're not two parties attending an event...you're co-hosting the event and *giving* them a platform. If you invite anti-muslim bigots to criticize Islam, its just not going to seem like a credible 'secularist' perspective. Sorry. Amuses me that they confirm and stand by 
their guest speakers with such confidence. Because just the day before, one of their contributors
was trying to tell me they are trapped and unable to pull out because they have been threatened with a lawsuit. 


This lawsuit excuse. was quickly dispelled as their co host
 publicly tweeted she would not sue if they
wanted to pull out of the event.

'It will cement our reputation' - Yes open bigotry will do that.
And you guys don't sound too devastated to be hosting an event with
a racist speaker in your magazine's official statement.
 (Tweet claiming threat of lawsuit from co-host was quickly deleted)

I was continuously accused of 'spreading rumours' about something
that was on their own ad for the event. The 'you'll see' was in reference to
the great statement they would make, explaining it all in the new issue (above). 
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Photo via Vive Charlie: Not to mention, their new magazine cover totally falls in line with the 'people as insects'
stuff...people clamouring up top, one with a spiderman shirt - incase u missed the insect theme...

And that coupled with the cover artist's words is just sad. The cover was later defended
in many weak ways, 'it's satire' - no it's not really satire if that's what you actually think.
 'Marvel has a brown person as spiderman' - yes, we all know the theme *here* isn't superheroes.
'The dictionary says you can use 'swarm' for people' - yes, but you're actually
 describing them as insects... not as *just* a large crowd. Complete intellectual dishonesty...
If one feels this way, why not stand by the sentiment at the very least?
Another article from the latest issue of Vive Charlie sticks to the same theme. 
Their own contributor realizes it 'appears racist' - but excuses that with 'it's a parody'
Unless you're parodying a racist, anti-muslim... this parody thing doesn't work. Joe parodies a jihadist..
jihadists don't spout anti-muslim bigotry....their bigotry goes the other way...

Anyway, after all this anti-muslim stuff....to support people like Badawi or retweet Maajid Nawaaz's articles, comes off as hypocritical and self-serving once again....so are *Muslims* stupid pedo goatfuckers...or are they sometimes people you'd want to support and not alienate?

Photo from Vive Charlie

One thing this whole incident indicates is an absolutely HUGE failure on the left's part. A failure to call out the problematic parts of Islam, a failure to try and dismantle the power it holds over the world today....a failure to show enough solidarity with murdered cartoonists...with those oppressed by Islam...

If the 'liberals' aren't stepping up and defending free speech...then we're going to get people allying with white genocide lunatics, anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, the frustration will increase bigotry towards those few truly progressive Muslims already marginalized by Muslim bigots.

Its time for the left to step up to the plate. And create a distinct, secular liberal discussion around Islam. We need to be honest and not shy away from it. And its also time for actual 'secularists' to reflect upon whether supporting publications like Vive Charlie will help in starting honest discussion around Islam, or will it just give the apologists fodder to continue shutting down all debate with cries of 'Islamophobia', as well as provide cover to people with anti-muslim, not secular agendas.

We need to stop letting extremists on both sides, or extremist-sympathizers control and shape the narratives in this discussion.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Facebook Wants to See My Govt. Photo ID - I'm anonymous because I'd be killed if I wasn't

Dear Readers,

If you're wondering why I haven't been posting on facebook...it's because my account has been targeted yet again. Facebook's 'real name' policy makes it impossible for many ex-muslims who receive constant death threats for apostasy to be on there safely.

In this political climate where outspoken secular South Asian bloggers like me are being hacked to death, when illustrators and cartoonists are shot for blaspheming, ex-Muslims are seriously expected to 'out' themselves?

And if we are not being targeted by Muslim bigots, we are being targeted by anti-Muslim bigots.

When I'm not being hated by Pakistani nationalists for being a secret Indian spy, I'm hated by Indian nationalists for being a Pakistani spy. When i'm not being attacked on social media by religious fundies, I'm accused by anti-muslim bigots for being a 'secret Muslim'. So as you can see, there are various groups that would be happy to shut me down. This policy gives them an easy way to do so.

This time they have asked me for government Photo ID which shows a birthdate ffs.

Facebook: you're not a government office, and you're not entitled to that information. So this is probably where we part ways, unless something changes.



I had just had my account reinstated in June this year. Whaddaya know.. it lasted aaaall the way till August! You can tweet to @facebook and tell them your thoughts on the 'real name' policy.

Read my previous post about Facebook here 

Keep in touch via Twitter @nicemangos 

Support my work here

Cheers,
E



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Danger of Non-Abrahamic Complacency


For the past few days, I've been engaged with truckloads of religious apologists on Twitter...not too different from other days - but this time it's with apologists of a different sort, the non-Abrahamics.

I've come across many kinds of religion-apologist in my life, many shades of apologia....your garden variety Abrahamic apologist may be a dishonest goalpost shifter....hiding behind 'mistranslations', 'misinterpretations' and 'inauthenticity' of sources. But the Hindu apologist is two steps ahead - if a regular apologist is a goalpost shifter, the Hindu apologist is a shapeshifter. Anything you try to critique about Hinduism is uncritiquable because of Hinduism's 'fluidity', and hence it isn't really a religion...it isn't really there at all...*poof*

Reza Aslan and Deepak Chopra rolled into one. A lethal combination. All words are meaningless, don't blame god for your bigotry, there is no god, god is everywhere, god is in us, what goes around comes around, Karma, cosmic payback, woo, pseudoscience mindfuckery galore.

The caste system which divides people into lesser and higher 'status', it's links to Hinduism undeniable, is acknowledged by many honest people of Hindu backgrounds...the existence of castes/untouchability and it's effect on people's lives are denied by defenders of the faith (which is not 'really a faith' of course). If that doesn't work, then it's links to Hinduism are denied... because the  holy texts are not really holy texts, because not many people read that text, because its not mandatory, because the religion is not really a religion, etc.

From the Documentary India Untouched
From the Documentary India Untouched

The most interesting defence of Hinduism however...is that it is 'better' than the Abrahamic faiths...as if that makes it ok. It is better in plenty of ways...it is less rigid, less violent, and more open to reform. However, complacency in the fact that it is 'better' than some pretty vile, bigoted belief systems is really setting the bar low. This is not something to be proud of or complacent about.

Being better than the worst isn't something that should help you sleep well at night.

Not being a violent Jihadist, shouldn't be the thing that makes you smug. You don't deserve a gold medal for not being a suicide bomber.... sorry. And not being as bad as the Abrahamics doesn't make the horrors in your faith go away. This complacency provides a comfortable place to stagnate, and not dismantle the evil that is religion. Saying 'my religion is open to reform' and denying the horrors that come with the religion is pretty counterproductive to that openness to reform.

What seems to have happened with popular sceptics and critics of religion is that their critiques have developed around the Abrahamic faiths, and perhaps justifiably so because their backgrounds are in the Abrahamic faiths. Also, the world at large is most troubled by Abrahamic faiths - their misogyny, their homophobia, violent tendencies...and glaringly Islam is at the forefront of this today. No denying that.

Something defensive Hindus seem to assume when criticism of their faith is brought up.... that I am in some way equating or denying the horrors of other religions. Nope. I have no attachment, no need to defend... no tribal instinct to protect...I only have a desire for the betterment of the world in general. The way I see it, religions are a roadblock to that betterment and progress.

So while you defend and deny and bicker about who else is bad, who is worse....people of your faith will continue to destroy lives of innocent people they deem 'untouchable'. Certain children made to sit at the back of the class, not allowed to enter the homes of their classmates, having to drink from a separate glass...having to walk alongside higher caste classmates barefoot in the mud because they don't have the privilege to wear shoes in those areas....The constant humiliation and oppression they suffer is not indicative of the fluidity and freedom you describe in your faith.

From the Documentary India Untouched

From the Documentary India Untouched

The Independent has this to say:

"Dalit (untouchable) women and girls are especially vulnerable, experiencing not only the discrimination of caste, but also of class and gender – ‘triple discrimination’ as it’s called here in India – leaving them in a vicious cycle of marginalisation and exploitation. National crime statistics indicate an average of over 1,000 rape cases against dalit women are reported annually, the highest of any social group.
Many dalit girls are also dedicated as Devadasi or Jogini. Once reported to be a sacred, religious practice, the Devadasi or Jogini dedication of girls to temples has morphed into an organised system of abuse of young dalit girls by men from dominant castes.  These girls are prohibited from marrying and are stigmatised by their community. Children born to them have to suffer discrimination as they don’t have a recognised father.
The continuous effect of these practices, and the sexual abuse of dalit women, is that dalits and other ‘untouchable’ groups are kept powerless, separate and unequal."

So perhaps, think again when you claim the caste system has been eradicated, think of the lives of underprivileged people when you deny its links to the religion that has caused them to suffer.

From the Documentary India Untouched
From the Documentary India Untouched

And while you continue to defend your 'Deepak' understandings of 'consciousness', 'Quantum healing', and retribution for actions in 'past lives'...others will continue to tell the disadvantaged or disabled they were born into this because they somehow deserved it.

Karma....

But let me guess, that's not 'really' what karma means is it... and those people are just 'misusing' the term. Yep... where have I heard that before?

From the Documentary India Untouched

"Quantum healing is healing the bodymind from a quantum level. That means from a level which is not manifest at a sensory level. Our bodies ultimately are fields of information, intelligence and energy. Quantum healing involves a shift in the fields of energy information, so as to bring about a correction in an idea that has gone wrong. So quantum healing involves healing one mode of consciousness, mind, to bring about changes in another mode of consciousness, body. --Deepak Chopra"

Sounds a lot like the bullshit wordsalad 'science' that was hurled at me by 'science loving' Hinduism apologists today... Cringeworthy was their appropriation of Sam Harris' Waking Up as some sort of endorsement of Hindu 'science' and Hinduism in general.

Sigh.

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While you talk about how much you like 'science', and how science-compatible your faith is...people depend on things like astrology for making major financial decisions and life choices. People's marriage compatibilities are determined according to astrology... And again, on the topic of 'science'...there's Ayurvedic medicine of course:

"Ayurvedic medicine teaches that good health is achieved when these forces are in perfect balance. But the doshas are unrelated to any known physicochemical process. You cannot see them. You cannot touch them. They cannot be measured or quantified in any manner. They are essentially the product of a rich, albeit unscientific imagination.
Ayurvedic practitioners nonetheless claim to have therapies for treating cancer, epilepsy, schizophrenia, psoriasis, peptic ulcers, bronchial asthma, malaria and many other diseases.4 Indeed, nothing appears to be outside the realm of Ayurvedic care. Some Ayurvedic doctors also claim that in the absence of any clinical symptoms they can accurately diagnose diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disease and asthma simply by taking a patient’s pulse,5 but remain incapable of providing evidence of a valid physiological mechanism for this amazing capability.
Are Ayurvedic doctors truly initiated into an ancient knowledge system, unknown to evidence-based science? Did erudite Indian mystics stumble on curative wisdom overlooked by modern researchers? More importantly, does Ayurveda work?
Credible scientific research answers in the negative, on all counts."
Please do tell me again, how this sort of nonsense isn't harmful? Imagine persuading a cancer/ asthma/epilepsy patient to try this as treatment instead of modern medicine? That could be fatal....and the defence I've heard here is "Well its not mandatory to follow these things in Hinduism" - well yeah its not mandatory to marry a child or perform fgm in Islam either... but I oppose those things because they exist within the ideology - for others to use and justify their actions with....for others to exploit people with.

It shouldn't be about avoiding criticism and shifting blame, it should be about accepting criticism and creating change.  
Until the power of religion is dismantled as a whole...it is the duty of every 'freethinker' to point out the ways in which religion...all of it, harms humanity. Some of it is more harmful certainly...and more urgent. But some of it goes undetected as a result, slips under the radar of scepticism...and the oppressed continue to be oppressed by it...pseudoscience continues to flourish. 
It's important we turn our attentions from the Abrahamic faiths to the non Abrahamic faiths every now and again...for a better, less nonsensical world for everyone.

In many ways, the largely absent mainstream critique of non-Abrahamic religions is taken as an endorsement. This is not the message to be sending at all - and sceptics must take steps to rectify this misunderstanding.

Even in a microcosm as small as my own personal twitterverse, I see consistent patterns:

1) A spike in followers when Abrahamic religion is criticized.
2) A drop in followers when non-Abrahamic religion is criticized.

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- For more thoughts on the subject of non-Abrahamic critique, this article on What's wrong with Jainism is an interesting read.

here are some thoughts I had about Sikhs who claim that not being allowed to wear their kirpans (daggers) publicly is a violation of their human rights. 
- And for those who think the caste system has been eradicated in India, I request that you watch this excellent documentary :

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