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Saudi blogger Raif Badawi gets a thousand lashes and 10 years

Raif Badawi Freedom

A Saudi court has jailed blogger Raif Badawi for ten years for “insulting Islam” and setting up a liberal internet forum, local media report.

He was additionally sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine of one million riyals ($266,000; £133,000).

Amnesty International called the decision “outrageous” and urged the authorities to quash the verdict.

Mr Badawi, the co-founder of an internet site known as the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested in 2012.

A Saudi newspaper near the goverment reported thathe had lost his appeal against an earlier, more lenient sentence of seven years and three months in jail and 600 lashes.
Last year he was cleared of apostasy, that could have carried a death sentence.
Mr Badawi had previously called for 7 May to be a “day for Saudi liberals”. The website he set up has since been closed.

“Ruthless campaign”

Amnesty International describes him as a “prisoner of conscience” and has called for his release.

“Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia,” it said in a statement.

Last October a Saudi journalist was freed after spending a year and a half in prison for writing insulting tweets about the Prophet Muhammad.

Hamza Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia for Malaysia in 2012 but was extradited just days later. He was released last year after making a public apology.


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Iran launch campaign against ‘immodest’ dress

Iranian women grabed by the morality police

Iranian women grabed by the morality police

The FRANCE 24 iranian journalist, Ershad Alijani, reports that: “Every year, as the weather warms up, the Iranian morality police come out in full force to patrol the streets and stop women they judge as being dressed too seductively. Despite a new, more moderate president, our Iranian Observers expect this summer’s crackdown to be even harsher than in previous years, because the country’s hardliners have launched a massive campaign to denounce examples of “immodest” dress.”

Over the past few weeks, hardliner-affiliated websites and media outlets have published strange photographs of women in a variety of situations considered improper. Moreover, numerous banners in the street and in hardliner media are exhorting women to wear modest clothing as a protective measure, comparing them to pistachios without their shells, or expensive cars without their covers.

 The woman wearing a headscard that covers her hair is compared to a precious car that needs a cover to preserve it. The woman wearing a headscarf low on the back of her head is compared to an inexpensive car.

The woman wearing a headscard that covers her hair is compared to a precious car that needs a cover to preserve it. The woman wearing a headscarf low on the back of her head is compared to an inexpensive car.

On Monday, the Interior ministry, which oversees the morality police, announced that it had come up with a special plan to combat improper clothing this summer, without giving any further details. There are no specific guidelines as to what constitutes improper clothing, but morality police have been known to take offence to such things as tight coats, short pants, leggings, sandals, nail polish, and headscarves worn low on the back of the head.

“Change in government is going to make any difference”

As Mahboubeh, 32 years old Iranian, voted for Rohani said:

We all know that the morality police have nothing to do with the civil administration, so we shouldn’t be nagging the government about it. It’s been like this for decades and people who voted for Rohani thinking they would get more lax dress laws were surely hallucinating. I think the hardliners are pushing this campaign to try cause Rohani to lose support among those who voted for him. The hardliners may not be very numerous, but they concentrate a lot of power and own many media outlets, so this is an unwinnable battle.


Iran is part of a minorities of countries that force women to wear Hijab in public, claiming that is mandatory in Islam (which is not true)

If you want to learn more about Hijab in Islam check the following article:

Hijab is NOT a compulsion of Islam

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Saudi Arabia defy ban on women drivers!

Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans women from driving, but some women there have been choosing to get behind the wheel in defiance

Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans women from driving, but some women there have been choosing to get behind the wheel in defiance

Women in Saudi Arabia are being encouraged to get behind the steering wheel today in a show of defiance against a driving ban, as the US President Barack Obama ends his visit in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The move comes as part of a sustained campaign to grant women the freedom to drive, which saw some 60 women flout the ban in October last year after 16 female drivers were arrested for driving.

Men who supported the campaign were also targeted. Tariq Al-Mubarak, a schoolteacher and activist who was among those detained, was held for more than a week without charge and interrogated about his involvement with the group.

The activists say their long-term goal is not just to win Saudi females the freedom to drive, but to clear a path for broader democratic reforms.

Organiser Eman al-Nafjan said more than 100 women in total have driven since the campaign began six months ago.

The authorities seized the car of Tadamur Al Yami a mother of two, who posted a video of herself driving in Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive.


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Palestinian ‘honour killings’ are rising!

Sisters of Palestinian Aya Baradia

Sisters of Palestinian Aya Baradia, 21, who was a victim of honour killing, mourn next to the water well where her uncle threw her in the village of Surif near the West Bank city of Heron on May 21, 2011. – AFP

Gaza City, Palestine – Two teenage Palestinian girls were killed in separate incidents last month in so-called “honour killings”, revenge attacks carried out most often by family members against women suspected of “immoral sexual conduct”.

The deaths sparked protests with more than 100 people assembling outside the general attorney’s office in Gaza on March 3, demanding violence against Palestinian women come to a halt. Five women died in honour killings in the Palestinian territories in 2011. That number rose to 13 in 2012 and doubled to 26 last year.

“For the past three years, the number of women killed have increased each year,” said Mariam Abu al-Atta, coordinator of the Amal Coalition to Combat Violence Against Women, at the recent demonstration. “Today we are here to stop these crimes. Criminals should be punished by law.”

But the day after the protest, another woman, Samah Bader, was stabbed to death by her husband in their apartment in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. She became the eighth woman killed in the Palestinian territories since the beginning of the year – raising concerns the deadly trend will continue to spiral upwards.

Honour killings are common in some Arab, South Asian and African societies, as unsupervised contact between an unmarried woman and a man can lead to social stigma on the family.

‘Atmosphere of sympathy’

Naser al-Rayyes, a legal consultant at the Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq, estimated that 90 percent of honour killings are in fact carried out for reasons other than “dishonouring” the family, with the assailants aware that courts are more lenient when sexual misconduct is cited as a motive.

“With the political split, you don’t have anyone in the Gaza Strip aiming to criminalise these offenses.”- Hiba Zayyan, UN Women


“It is to create an atmosphere of sympathy for the murderer and his family to mitigate the sentence,”

Al Haq has long pushed for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ratify a new penal code that eliminates “family honour” as a mitigating circumstance, and instead mandates harsher sentences in cases in which it is claimed as the motive. Most of those convicted spend only a few years in jail.

The draft law was presented to Abbas in 2011 but still has not been passed.

Reacting to the recent killings of women, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi called upon the judiciary, security forces and grassroots organisations to “eradicate this phenomenon in line with the principles of democracy”.

But even if Abbas signs the new law, it won’t help women in the Gaza Strip. Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2007, while Fatah remains in charge in the West Bank.

As a result, the two Palestinian territories have different legal systems which, according to Atta, creates an environment where it is impossible to implement one clear law. “We have to unite our voices towards both Hamas and Fatah to end the separation and put one law in force and take action against criminals,” she said.

Hiba Zayyan, of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, said the lack of legal clarity is a major reason for the increase in the killing of women.

“With the political split, you don’t have anyone in the Gaza Strip aiming to criminalise these offences or even to send an ethical, moral message – even if it is not put into effect. There is a complete silence from [Hamas] government institutions,”.

“It is very much connected to law and order – how people perceive the strength of duty-bearers and how they would feel about being punished or getting away with a crime.”

General violence against women (with honor excuse)

“Is there any difference between “family honor” and the “honor” of a spurned beau?

Not really. In both cases, men decide that when they are embarrassed by a woman for whatever reason, she must be killed. Saying it is to defend “honor” is a deflection, but one that gullible observers swallow.”

When you start to see women as objects every reason is valid to murder…

Minas Qasim, 21, chokied to death by her “boyfriend” because her family rejected his marriage proposal.

Israeli police on Wednesday identified a 19-year-old Palestinian as the main suspect in the murder of a woman from Jerusalem.

Police spokeswoman Luba al-Samari said 19-year-old Mohammad Shweiki was suspected of choking Minas Qasim to death because her family rejected his marriage proposal.

The body of Qasim, 21, was found near a dump in East Jerusalem’s al-Eizariya area on May 6, three days after she disappeared on her way home from work. An autopsy revealed the cause of death as strangling.

Police found Qasim’s belongings at the suspect’s home, including a necklace and her mobile phone, al-Samari said in a statement.

‘Man’s society’

When Umm Mohammed was 36, her husband divorced her after beating her badly. She was forced to leave the children behind because she was afraid and unaware of where to turn for help, she said.

Today she works with a women’s rights centre, where she helps wives caught in abusive marriages to try and get divorced. “It’s a man’s society,” she said. “I tell them you have to be stronger than anything.”

After her divorce, Umm Mohammed moved in with her brother and sister-in-law, who tried to stop her from continuing her education or working, and forbade her from going anywhere on her own. She was able to move freely only after she moved in with her son and daughter-in-law.

Women in Gaza are extremely dependent on their family and husbands, Zayyan, of the UN, said – preventing many from leaving an abusive or bad marriage.

“They face the possibility of losing their children, their property and their economic security within the domestic sphere. And then there’s the social stigma. A divorced woman would start to become censored by her immediate family.”

Zayyan said she hopes for more initiatives from government and civil society to support women seeking help – before it is too late.

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UAE: Qatari prisoner of conscience tortured then jailed for seven years

Qatari national, Dr Mahmoud al-Jaidah, is a prisoner of conscience in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The authorities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must immediately quash the conviction of a Qatari medical doctor who has been sentenced to seven years in jail today after a grossly unfair trial, said Amnesty International.

Mahmoud Abdulrahman al-Jaidah was arrested more than a

year ago over alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood and faced torture and ill-treatment in detention. He was denied access to a lawyer while held in secret detention and given limited access to one during his trial, in flagrant violation of international fair trial standards. He has no right to appeal his sentence.

“Today’s disgraceful sentencing of Mahmoud al-Jaidah is a farce and makes a mockery of the UAE’s claim to be a progressive country that respects human rights.  He was arrested without a warrant, blindfolded and flung into solitary confinement before being repeatedly tortured, ill-treated and forced to sign papers he wasn’t allowed to read,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

He is one of scores of prisoners of conscience unjustly imprisoned by the UAE authorities in the past year for alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or al-Islah (Reform and Social Guidance Association), an association legally established in 1974 in the UAE where it has been engaged in peaceful social and political debate.

“The evidence against him appears scant and his trial was marred by flaws. The charges he faced were politically motivated. He has become the latest victim of the UAE’s deeply flawed judicial system. His conviction must be quashed and he must be immediately and unconditionally released. The unrelenting unfair trials in the UAE must end,” said Said Boumedouha.

While in detention Mahmoud al-Jaidah’s interrogators threatened to peel off his nails and hang him upside down until he died. They also subjected him to brutal beatings on his face and his feet, deprived him of sleep and continually exposed him to bright lights.

“Mahmoud al-Jaidah’s treatment in detention was appalling. The authorities have failed to investigate these allegations of abuse. An independent investigation into his mistreatment must be conducted and those responsible brought to justice,” said Said Boumedouha.

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“…a distinction betweenGod and what one sees deep inside his heart and knows there is a god. Indeed, it would be difficult to know that our god is really God.”

by Natalia Laskowska

Something to think about:

It happened only once that this question came from my mouth, yet still the mere thought of uttering it makes me feel quite uncomfortable. “Do you believe in God?”. The person who had to hear it from me is one of the dearest beings that live on this planet, so back then I was just very gently made aware that the question was wrong. It is the last week that I sensed on my skin not only how wrong but also how intellectually boorish it was.

During somemore academic session on religion, one lady asked me “So do you really believe in God?”.I was baffled. Feeling uncomfortable to hear such question from a person whom I never met before, I changed the subject. But she came back with it requesting an answer with flat yes or no. I replied with question: “Do you have orgasm?”.

It was impolite, yet the two questions had something in common – answering them was disturbing, and both related to experience which only the person asked would know if it is there or not. And even supposing it is there one cannot be really certain it is.

Mark Johnston in Saving God (2009) makes a distinction between God and what one sees deep inside his heart and knows there is a god. Indeed, it would be difficult to know that our god is really God. Professor Johnston points three conditions we can determine by looking into our hearts: that we believe there is God; that we believe our god is God; and that we believe in our god. Yet do we actually believe in God then? We believe that we believe…This is already most personal and intimate.

We can see a difference between asking whether God exists or not, and whether a person believes in God or not. The latter one is like forcing somebody into our own patterns of believing: if we believe – into how we believe, if we do not believe – into how we think other people believe. And this is quite low, for somehow our concepts may be too shallow and conventional to fit other person’s subtle thought. Saying “yes” the person would accept the frame structured in our possibly very much limited brains. But maybe he or she would not really want to be reduced to it?

This is where answering “yes” becomes so odd and disturbing, it could be that the person would say “yes” to what is inside his heart, but he does not feel like saying “yes” to what is inside our hearts or brains. Saying “no” is equally uncomfortable. It could mean that the person clearly refuses to accept our idea of god which is already included in “Do you believe in God?” question. And this means the end ofdiscussion as well.

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Thank you for your support | Amnesty International.

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I am back, this time I bring a video.

Do you get it now?

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May God be with You

In God they trust

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